The company, a leading provider of digital advertising solutions for managing advertising campaigns, was once on fire. No more. The stock plummeted almost 27% Friday, a day after the Redwood City, Calif., company missed its fourth-quarter revenue estimates.
Apparently analysts love the company's revenue growth of 125% last year. For the next five years, analysts expect the company to grow earnings at a rate of 40%, which is pretty aggressive considering the seven-year old company is still operating at a loss.
Forget the analysts. If you hold this stock, sell it.
The stock closed Friday at $10.82, down 33% for the year to date. For those who follow such things, it has an average price target of $20, implying 85% gains from current levels. Its high analyst target of $35 suggests 223% gains, which is unrealistic.
This stock fits all of the qualities of the falling knife, meaning things are likely to get worse before they get better. Take a look at the chart.
The shares are now trading at 82% below their 52-week high of $59.62. That says the easy money has already made. Investors who bought or doubled-down at levels of $55, $45, $35 and $25 are still under water. For that matter, so are those who bought at $20 and $15.
Those investors are now desperate to break even, and there will be selling pressure with each successive $5 move upward. These shares are still expensive, trading at 120 times 2016 earnings estimates of 9 cents per share.
For the quarter that ended in December, Rocket Fuel posted an adjusted net loss (excluding share-based compensation expense) of 33 cents, coming in wider than last year's 5-cent loss. That, too, is a concern. While revenue did grow impressively at 63% year over year to $139.5 million, the company still missed estimates, suggesting expectations for the company are too high.
Consider the competition. Google (GOOGL) - Get Report and Facebook (FB) - Get Report -- two advertising behemoths with much deeper pockets -- have embraced new digital advertising platforms based on big-data/predictive analytics. To what extent Rocket Fuel can compete for the long term remains to be seen.
Investors should seek much safer investments until this company can show that it can earn a profit.
TheStreet Ratings team rates ROCKET FUEL INC as a Sell with a ratings score of D-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate ROCKET FUEL INC (FUEL) a SELL. This is driven by a number of negative factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income and feeble growth in its earnings per share."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: FUEL Ratings Report
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.