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Groupon shares plunge: Drain in sight

Cyber Monday not a good day for coupon site

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On Cyber Monday, a day when tech firms are supposed to be doing quite well, Groupon saw its shares take another tumble on the Nasdaq, landing firmly below the IPO price at $15.24.

The daily deals site has seen its stock plummet in the last 10 days, dropping 41 per cent from $26.19 on 18 November, including a 9 per cent fall yesterday alone.

The shares sold for $20 each in the IPO and opened on the market at around $26 on November 4.

Before the big shopping weekend in the US, analysts had been speculating that the lack of good bargains on the site might be to blame for the lack of interest in from investors, especially since rival LivingSocial was going all out on Black Friday/Cyber Monday goodies.

But analyst Herman Leung at Susquehanna Financial Group pointed out to the Wall Street Journal that other internet company stocks have been taking something of a knock in the last two weeks as well.

LinkedIn lost 4.88 per cent yesterday, adding to a fall from 4 November of 29 per cent, from $85 to $60. (Although a recent round of financing might have something to do with that).

And even well-established stocks such as those of Amazon have been a bit off, dropping from $217.62 on 4 November to $194.15 yesterday – although that included a rise on Cyber Monday of 6.44 per cent as the etailer did well out of the shopping frenzy.

So it's possible that online stocks, particularly social networking ones, are just starting to feel a little too uncertain in the gloomy, double-dip-fearing global economy.

However, yet more analysts are still concerned about the business underlying Groupon stocks.

When it started the initial public offering process, hopes were high for the coupon site, but once it opened its accounts, doubts started to creep in.

Quite apart from the well-known accounting metric gaffe that made Groupon look like it was trying to fudge the numbers, the simple fact was that the site had yet to make any profits, leading analysts to speculate that the business model just wouldn't work.

Yesterday, Endpoint Technologies Associates analyst Roger Kay raised that notion again with Marketwatch.

“These guys always struck me as an overblown boiler room operation,” he said bluntly in an email. “I’m not surprised to see them lose value as fast as they have.” ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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