Groupon disclosure, growth concerns hit stock

Wed Feb 8, 2012 9:07pm EST
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By Alistair Barr and Gerry Shih

(Reuters) - Groupon Inc shares slumped Wednesday as the daily deal company's first quarterly results since it went public stoked concern about limited disclosure and slowing growth.

Groupon reported an unexpected fourth-quarter loss from a huge tax bill, most of which will likely not be repeated.

While the tax bill caught Wall Street's eye, analysts were more unsettled by signs that Groupon's breakneck pace of growth from recent quarters may be slowing, especially in North America, its most mature market.

Groupon also did not disclose some metrics that the company had reported in filings last year for its initial public offering, some analysts noted.

"There weren't a lot of details on metrics that Groupon provided in the past," said Aaron Kessler, an analyst at Raymond James. "There may be some frustration with this. A lack of details is never a good thing."

Groupon shares slumped 15 percent to $20.90 in after-hours trading following the results.

As a private company Groupon was one of the fastest-growing businesses in history. However, it was criticized for big losses, heavy marketing spending and aggressive accounting in the run-up to its IPO last year.

In early November, Groupon pulled off one of the largest Internet IPOs of the past decade, valuing the company well over $10 billion. But analysts and investors are still concerned that consumers may be getting tired of the company's discount coupons and some merchants are not running more than one Groupon deal.   Continued...