Can Groupon Get Its Numbers on Track?

Since coming public in November 2011, Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) has been a disaster for investors, with shares shedding nearly 80% of their value in that time. The company isn’t alone as a social loser — see Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) — but it’s certainly the worst.

That’s no surprise given Groupon’s history of bumbling and stumbling during its quarterly earnings report, especially on the top line. Here’s a look at the mess GRPN has made at the earnings confessional since coming public:

Estimated REV. Actual REV. Estimated EPS Actual EPS
Q4 ’11 $640 million $638.3 million -$0.02 -$0.12*
Q1 ’12 $530.6 million $559.3 million +$0.01 +$0.02
Q2 ’12 $574.8 million $568.3 million +$0.03 +$0.04
Q3 ’12 $590 million $568.6 million +$0.04 $0
Q4 ’12 $640.2 million $638.3 million +$0.03 -$0.12
* In late March 20122, Groupon announced a restatement of Q4 ’11 earnings because of “material weaknesses” in its internal controls. The company revised the loss by another 4 cents per share to a 16-cent loss.

Also of no surprise was the booting of Groupon founder and CEO Andrew Mason in late February … as well as the relative quiet since then.

But GRPN might be making noise again soon enough. Namely on Wednesday, when it reports Q1 results.

The Street is looking for revenues of $588.9 million and a loss of 1 cent a share. Analysts understandably have become more cautious when handling Groupon, so it’s reasonable to expect GRPN to beat expectations. On the flip side, its track record demonstrates that a miss isn’t out of the question, not to mention the fact that Groupon is in the midst of a transition, as it looks to fill the CEO spot.

Long-term, it’s hard to like the company’s core daily-deals business, which is losing favor among merchants who say Groupon-generated customers aren’t all that loyal, and Groupon users themselves who are tiring of the email barrage.

Investors are advised to stay away from Groupon. And as today’s nearly 5% drop would indicate, several are already taking that advice to heart.

Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook. He is also the author of High-Profit IPO StrategiesAll About Commodities and All About Short Selling. Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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