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Digital River stock continues its slide

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER
  • Star Tribune
  • May 7, 2012 - 9:41 PM

E-commerce firm Digital River continued its stock market slide Monday, dropping 6.2 percent to close at $15.38 after plummeting 12 percent on Friday.

Analysts said investors were continuing to react to last Thursday's disappointing second- quarter forecast, despite stronger-than-expected first-quarter results that were released the same day.

"Digital River is in the investor penalty box for lack of growth and inconsistent performance," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets in New York. "That one-two punch sent the stock down pretty significantly."

Out of a dozen analysts following Minnetonka-based Digital River, seven are neutral on the stock and five predict it will outperform the market.

On Thursday, Digital River beat Wall Street expectations for its first quarter, with revenue growing 4 percent. But it also issued second-quarter projections that were below what Wall Street had anticipated, raising questions about whether the second half of the year would be strong enough for Digital River to meet its full-year financial projections, Ives said.

"Digital River's growth of the top line has been nothing to write home about, and the company's level of spending has been more aggressive than some investors had been hoping for," Ives said.

One unanswered question is how much revenue Digital River will get from Microsoft, one of its larger customers, he said.

Digital River helps companies sell their software online by providing websites where customers can purchase the products. These websites are often indistinguishable from those of the firms that create the software, making Digital River a largely invisible partner.

In the case of Microsoft, the world's largest software company, the revenue potential for Digital River is high. But it remains unclear what percentage of Microsoft's software sales will be routed through Digital River websites.

In the first quarter, Digital River earned $4.7 million, or 14 cents per share. Excluding certain costs, the company earned 30 cents a share, more than the 29 cents analysts had expected. Revenue was $102.4 million, higher than the $100.2 million analysts had expected.

But Digital River projected that for the second quarter ending in June it would earn adjusted net income of 17 cents to 19 cents per share, while analysts had been expecting 23 cents. The firm projected second-quarter revenue of $92 million to $94 million, while analysts had been expecting $95.3 million.

Based on the second-quarter guidance from Digital River, Ives on Friday lowered his second-quarter adjusted earnings estimate to 18 cents from 26 cents, and lowered his revenue estimate from $96.2 million to $93.4 million.

Ives also lowered his 2012 adjusted earnings estimate to $1.17 per share from $1.25, and reduced his full-year revenue estimate to $406.1 million from $408.8 million.

However, Ives continues to rate Digital River as an "outperform" stock, based on his belief that the firm can return to double-digit revenue growth in 18 to 24 months.

Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553

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