I'm not sure what's the better icebreaker to get a cocktail party started: "Is Tim Tebow an NFL-caliber quarterback?" "Is Groupon (NAS: GRPN) a Wall Street-worthy stock?"
The obvious answer is "of course" on both fronts. Tebow's a mess heaving the pigskin, but he avoids mistakes, can make things happen with his feet, and is 5-1 as a starter this season. Groupon's bottom line is as red as a cherry tomato, but the company's growing too fast and it's too popular to dismiss as simply a busted IPO with a busted model.
Kicking Groupon while it's down is too trendy for my taste. I have a few reasons to give the recent IPO a shot here. Let's dive right in.
1. It pays to be a contrarian.
Fellow Fool Tim Beyers is bearish on the daily deals leader, and he provided one of the best naysayer arguments that I've read on Groupon. Unfortunately for him, he's not alone. It seems as if every financial analyst is trashing Groupon. Individual investors are also piling on the hate.
Just 47 of the 492 Motley Fool CAPS participants that have rated the stock tagged it with an outperform rating. You won't find too many stocks where more than 90% of the public is bearish. For those scoring at home, I became No. 47 yesterday afternoon. It's my CAPScall party and I'll tout if I want to.
There's obviously no reason to believe that the vast majority can't be right here. If the masses deem Groupon to be overvalued, gosh darn it, the stock's probably overvalued. However, I like situations where pessimists outnumber optimists. The larger the sample of skeptics, the greater the pool of potential buyers down the line.
2. 142.9 million people can't be wrong.
There were 142.9 million subscribers to Groupon's daily half-priced local deal blasts. Most of them are window shopping, I know. Just 29.5 million of them have actually purchased a Groupon prepaid voucher, and only 16 million have bought more than one.
However, how many websites do you know where there are 142.9 million people itching to make a transaction? A lot of people knock Groupon's model for its simplicity, but if you're an advertiser who wants to bring in new business, aren't you going to be willing to jump through a few extra hoops to make sure your deal is on the most popular site?
No one is challenging travel deals publisher Travelzoo (NAS: TZOO) in its niche, and it only has 21.3 million subscribers through Europe and North America. eBay's (NAS: EBAY) PayPal is considered the undisputed champ in Web-based financial transactions and it only has 103 million active accounts worldwide.
Oh, and Groupon isn't done. The website continues to grow considerably faster than those other companies. It's expanding internationally at such a brisk pace that it's actually sacrificing profitability today for long-term rewards later. How is that not smart?
3. Aligning yourself with insider interest is a good thing.
Did you see what LinkedIn (NYS: LNKD) pulled earlier this month? Six months after going public at $45, the corporate social networking website executed a secondary offering. This was by design. LinkedIn issued a small number of shares during its IPO to stir up demand by limiting the supply of freshly minted shares. Since its shares were trading well above its IPO price, insiders took advantage of the open window to cash out at higher prices.
Groupon didn't necessarily go skimpy in its Wall Street debut, hitting the first wave of investors with 35 million shares at $20 apiece. However, the fact that it closed yesterday at $15.88 makes it less likely for a secondary offering to happen anytime soon. In fact, buying in now would mean that the stock would have to climb 26% for it to even make sense for insiders to begin punching out. If they win, you win.
Oh, and tell me that you don't appreciate getting in at a steep discount to what fat-cat clients of full-service brokers and institutional investors were paying to hop on the Groupon gravy train just a couple of weeks ago.
4. Groupon isn't as expensive as you think.
Everyone dismisses Groupon's heady top-line growth, even though it's the perfect metric to gauge this seemingly broken model's popularity. Groupon sold nearly $1.2 billion worth of deal vouchers this past quarter. Do you really think that Google (NAS: GOOG) or Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) are anywhere close with their nascent Groupon-like initiatives?
Investors dismiss the huge revenue gains because Groupon isn't profitable, but that's not going to last. All three of the analysts that have modeled Groupon's projected financials expect the company to turn a healthy profit next year. The lone analyst going out a year after that sees a profit of $0.99 a share come 2013.
December starts tomorrow. A month after that, bulls can say that Groupon is trading for just 16 times "next year's earnings" -- even though Groupon is clearly growing way faster than that.
In a nutshell, everybody hates this cheap speedster that's all the rage. If you missed this month's ground-floor opportunity to get in on the IPO, I'm holding the basement elevator door open for you.
If you want to follow the daily deals leader to see if it becomes a bargain itself, addGrouponto My Watchlist.
At the time thisarticle was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Google.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Travelzoo, eBay, Amazon.com, and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, except for Travelzoo. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.
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