Clip This: Coupons.com IPO Could Be a Winner

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Darn few initial public offerings generate enough buzz that they make competitors' stocks dip even before the newcomer begins trading.

But that appears to be happening with Coupons.com, the printable grocery-coupon site whose $161 million IPO is set for this week.

Analysts said speculation about new competition helped push shares of Retail-Me-Not (SALE), which debuted in July, down 11% on Friday. Its shares are 47% for the year to date. But Retail-Me-Not, which serves up discounts from mall-based retailers, isn't Coupons' main target. In case you missed the point, CEO Steven Boal appeared in the company''s video roadshow holding a sheaf of newspaper coupon inserts -- the shiny paper kind we've all known since we were kids.

The hype is the next giant whooshing sound leaving the papers will be revenue from coupon inserts -- coming years after eBay (EBAY) took the garage sale ads, Craigslist the apartment listings and AutoTrader.com the used-car business.

For its next trick, Boal says, Coupons.com hopes to expand the grocery-coupon business by using mobile and other technologies to tie itself in with grocers' loyalty programs and convince consumers to redeem ever more of the coupons they see, increasing the size of the decades-old market for grocery coupons even as Coupons.com takes market share.

So far, that formula has translated into big growth but not into profits.  Coupons.com's sales jumped 50% last year to $167.9 million, with a net loss of $11.2 million (18 cents a share). But, as usual with tech IPOs, there are reasons to look a little deeper at the numbers.

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