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Yelp Inc Earnings: Stock Plunges After Results

Yelp Inc released its Q4 2017 earnings report after closing bell tonight. Yelp earnings came in at $1.60 per share on a GAAP basis on $218.2 million in revenue, while analysts had been looking for $214.9 million in revenue. In the year-ago quarter, Yelp Inc (YELP)  reported GAAP earnings of 10 cents per share.

Yelp earnings
By User:ZyMOS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Q4 Yelp earnings result includes a pre-tax gain of $164.8 million from the sale of Eat24. Adjusted EBITDA fell to $41.6 million from $45.3 million. Ad revenue rose 18% year over year to $208.4 million, while transactions revenue fell to $5.2 million from $16.6 million in Q4 2016 due to the sale of Eat24. Other services revenue rose to $4.6 million from $1.7 million, driven by Nowait and Yelp WiFi.

Before the Yelp earnings release, Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley said he wanted to see local ad revenue to come in at $209 million backed by 5,000 new account adds and an increase of 0.5% in average revenue per user. He expected EBITDA to rise to $43 million, which also was a little ahead of consensus.

“We finished 2017 strong with rising growth in new advertiser acquisition and continued improvements in revenue retention from the prior year,” co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said in a statement on the Yelp earnings release. “In 2018, we are focused on increasing consumer usage through deepening our product experience in the Restaurants category and attracting advertisers through expanding sales channels and increased ad product flexibility.”

Yelp said cumulative reviews increased 23% to about 148 million, while unique devices grew 20% to about 29 million on a monthly average basis. The number of paying ad accounts increased 21% to about 163,000.

For Q1 2018, management expects revenue to be between $218 million and $221 million and adjusted EBITDA to be between $29 million and $32 million. For all of 2018, they project revenue of $935 million to $965 million and adjusted EBITDA of $175 million to $187 million.

For 2018, Walmsley looks for $922 million in local ad revenue, representing a 19% year-over-year increase. However, he was ahead of the consensus at $918 million. He expects Yelp  to add about 26,200 new paying accounts this year, although he also said that this could be conservative. He especially likes Yelp’s prospects because of its retention of senior sales staffer and improving hiring for its sales staff. On the Yelp earnings call, he wants to hear more about the sales team’s productivity, especially among veterans and new hires after the company added about 500 new people over the last two quarters.

He’s looking for a 1.8% increase in average revenue per user for 2018, compared to the 1.2% he was expecting for 2017. He estimates transactional revenue at $13.9 million for the year, assuming $1 per order from GrubHub customers on 26 million orders.

Following the Yelp earnings release, the company’s stock plunged by about 8% in after-hours trading, falling as low as $40.60 per share.