- 2Q15 PRINT = DISASTER: We expect YELP to miss 2Q consensus revenue estimates for Local Adverting and cut 2015 revenue guidance. YELP will need a massive acceleration in new account growth to hit estimates, particularly in 2H15 (see first link below). That will be a major challenge since YELP is now struggling to grow/retain its salesforce, the size of which drives its entire model. The fact that this is even remotely an issue means the model is unraveling, and is likely why YELP has decided to put itself up for sale.
- BUT IS THERE A BUYER? We don't believe so. There are very few who can afford, and much fewer (if any) who would be willing to look past YELP’s attrition issues and/or risk trying to fix the model. The latter would require introducing lower-tiered products, which would ultimately result in declining revenue since YELP would essentially be replacing its account base at a lower ARPU. Still, we can’t categorically rule out an acquisition since M&A can be illogical, even if we can't identify a likely buyer.
- PERDITION OR SALVATION: Basically, will YELP be saved before its model implodes? We don't believe so, but if YELP is to be acquired, we believe it needs to happen before or during the 2Q15 release since a second consecutive guidance miss/cut would be a major red flag for any would-be suitor. We want short exposure to the 2Q15 release, but we wouldn’t be naked short into the print since it is essentially a binary event than can go 20%-30% in either direction. Best play here would be options if possible (e.g. buy puts or protect short w/ out-of-money calls).
We are planning on hosting an update call next week to address incremental developments to our short thesis and discuss the M&A landscape. In the interim, see the below notes for supporting detail, and let us know if you have any questions.
YELP: The New Major Red Flag (1Q15)
04/30/15 08:53 AM EDT
YELP: Salesforce Productivity?
03/16/15 08:10 AM EDT
YELP: Debating TAM
06/30/14 01:10 PM EDT
YELP: Death of a Business Model
04/04/14 10:05 AM EDT
Hesham Shaaban, CFA