February 13, 2015 / 12:10 AM / 5 years ago

Groupon outlook disappoints; Ticket Monster draws interest

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Groupon Inc (GRPN.O) gave a forecast for first-quarter results that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations on Thursday, as the online commerce company confirmed that several parties have expressed interest in acquiring its South Korean subsidiary Ticket Monster.

The Groupon smartphone app is displayed on a Motorola Droid Bionic cell phone in Denver November 4, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Those parties had opened discussions with Groupon about possibly buying the loss-making Asian e-commerce firm, which sells tickets online and is valued at about $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Groupon said it was too early to comment on the likelihood of such a deal, though it continues to explore alternatives for its various Asian businesses.

Groupon bought Ticket Monster from rival LivingSocial Inc about a year ago for $260 million.

On Thursday, Groupon, which once dominated the fast-growing online coupons arena, forecast revenue of $790 million to $840 million in the March quarter, up 13 percent from a year earlier on a foreign exchange-neutral basis.

That lagged Groupon’s target for 15 percent growth on the same basis in 2015. It also fell short of an average analyst estimate of $856.14 million.

The company reported earnings, excluding one-time items, of 6 cents per share in the crucial holiday quarter, surpassing the 3 cents that Wall Street had expected on average.

It forecast earnings of zero to 2 cents for the first quarter, a weak outlook compared with an average outlook for 2 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue was up 20 percent at $925.4 million during the three-month holiday period.

Shares in the company slid 1 percent to $7.38 in after-hours trade.

Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler

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