Yelp needs help, and buyout may be the answer

Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:38pm EDT
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By Arathy S Nair and Lehar Maan

(Reuters) - Selling itself could be one of the few options left for Yelp Inc (YELP.N: Quote), which is struggling to win advertising dollars in an increasingly crowded market that already includes Google Inc (GOOGL.O: Quote), TripAdvisor Inc (TRIP.O: Quote) and GrubHub Inc (GRUB.N: Quote).

Yelp, owner of consumer review website, reported a second-quarter loss on Tuesday and forecast revenue for the current quarter that was far below expectations.

The news pushed down the company's shares almost 30 percent on Wednesday to their lowest in more than two years, wiping out more than $735 million in market value.

As of Tuesday's close, Yelp – now valued at about $1.8 billion – had already lost 39 percent of its value this year.

Unless Yelp can come up with a strategy to boost its financial performance, the San Francisco-based company should consider selling itself, several analysts said.

Yelp put itself up for sale in May but then decided not to proceed, Bloomberg reported this month.

Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O: Quote), Inc (AMZN.O: Quote) and Priceline Group Inc PLCN.O would be possible buyers, analysts said.

Yelp declined to comment. Yahoo, Amazon and Google did not respond to request for comment, while Priceline said it did not comment on acquisition rumors.   Continued...

The Yelp Inc. logo is seen in their offices in Chicago, Illinois, March 5, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young