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IT'S ALIVE: Groupon stock up, spreadsheets still soaked in red

Sales better than expected at web deals bazaar

Groupon shares rallied in after-hours trading last night, jumping at least 10 per cent - after the daily deals site announced a better-than-expected rise in revenue.

The voucher bazaar is still making a loss, however.

Investors have been more optimistic about the site's stocks since co-founder and chief Andrew Mason was ousted in February, pushing the share price up around 40 per cent, and that cautious optimism has been validated by a lift of 7.5 per cent in revenue to $601.4m, more than the $590m forecast by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters Institutional Brokers' Estimate System.

Mason had been on his last legs at the firm for a while, as critics wondered if he had the necessary experience to run a major public company, particularly one that has seen its main revenue stream - discount coupons - falter in popularity. Groupon has attempted to bolster its earnings by shifting into discounted products through its Goods division.

The voucher site has been having problems on a number of fronts, including falling international business, retention of merchant partners for its coupons and the cost of attracting new customers. However, it has managed to reduce its net losses to $3.99m for the three months to March from $11.69m in the same quarter last year.

Despite the signs that the firm may not be as totally and utterly doomed as it was, Groupon continues to lose top executives, including its head of Goods just yesterday. The site is also on the lookout for a new chief exec, a job executive chairman Eric Lefkofsky and vice chair Ted Leonsis have taken on for now.

Leonsis said in a conference call that the board had formed a special committee to start searching for the next Groupon head, but didn't say anything about who might be interested in the job. ®

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