- Roku reported third-quarter results Wednesday that topped Wall Street’s expectations.
- But investors sold off its stock following the announcement; in recent trading it was off as much as 12%.
- The growth rate of the company’s platform business, while still robust, slowed markedly in the quarter, and it offered a disappointing forecast for its bottom line in the fourth quarter.
Roku’s investors may not have been pleased with the company’s third-quarter earnings report, but CEO Anthony Wood insists that everything’s going just fine.
The streaming media device maker’s results beat Wall Street’s expectations on the top and bottom lines. But investors found the results disappointing nonetheless, sending Roku’s stock down 12% in after-hours exchanges Wednesday.
Potentially feeding shareholder worries: Roku projected that its bottom line in the holiday quarter won’t be as robust as analysts were hoping, and it revealed that the growth rate of its platform business, which includes its fast-growing advertising sales, slowed considerably in the third quarter.
“We had a great quarter,” CEO Anthony Wood insisted in an interview with Business Insider. He continued: “We’re very happy with how things are going.”
Investors weren’t, though. In recent after-hours trading, Roku’s shares were down $7.45, or 12.66%, to $51.41. Earlier in the session, they were off as much as 13%.
Wood had much to crow about
From one vantage point, he and his colleagues had plenty of reason to be pleased with results. Roku posted $173.4 million in sales in the period, up 39% from the third quarter last year and above Wall Street’s forecast of $170.4 million in revenue.
For the period, the company posted a loss of $9.5 million, or 9 cents a share. In the same period a year earlier, it lost $46.2 million, or $8.79 a share, although that figure was swelled by a one-time stock-related charge. Regardless, its results in the third quarter bested analysts estimates; they were expecting a loss of 12 cents a share.
And the core parts of Roku’s business continued to post healthy growth. The company now has 23.8 million active customer accounts, which was up 43% from the year-ago quarter and up 8% from the second quarter this year. Its platform revenue, which includes advertising sales and the money it makes from licensing its software to television makers, grew 74% from last year’s third quarter, and its revenue from video ads grew by more than 100%.
“Our ad business is firing on all cylinders,” Wood said.
But looked at another way, the company gave investors and analysts reason for concern. Take its outlook. The company expects its bottom line in the fourth quarter to be anywhere from a loss of $4 million to a profit of $3 million on sales ranging from $255 million to $265 million. That forecast implies a bottom line ranging from a loss of about 4 cents a share to a profit of about 3 cents a share.
Analysts had forecast better results, at least on the bottom line. Prior to the report, they had projected that Roku would earn 5 cents a share in the holiday quarter on sales of $258.9 million.
But Roku’s growth rates are slowing
Meanwhile, even the company’s standout results for the third quarter included some data points that likely raised eyebrows. While impressive, the company’s platform growth rate slowed markedly in the quarter and has been on a consistent downward trend. In the second quarter, that segment grew at a 96% annual rate. In the three prior quarters, it grew by more than 100%.
Similarly, the growth in the company’s number of active accounts also slowed down, although not as dramatically. The 43% growth accounts was the slowest pace since Roku became a public company last year.
Meanwhile, its costs jumped significantly in the period. Its operating expenses were up 57% to 90.7 million, far outpacing its revenue growth.
Roku faces growing competition from Amazon, which not only sells rival streaming media boxes but also reportedly has an ad-supported streaming video channel in the works that would rival the Roku Channel. Like Roku, Amazon has started to license the operating system that underlies its media boxes to smart TV makers, signing a deal this summer with Best Buy to have it included on Best Buy’s Insignia television line.
The company also potentially faces new rivals such as Comcast, which has its own streaming media box in the works for its broadband customers, according to CNBC.
Wood sees advertisers as a bigger challenge than Amazon
But Wood said the bigger challenge for Roku is convincing advertisers to spend their dollars with it. The portion of advertisers’ video ad budgets that’s going to Roku trails the amount of time that consumers are spending on its platform, he said.
“That’s a way bigger issue than our competition,” he said.
And Wood isn’t worried about Amazon’s deal with Best Buy. That’s an exclusive relationship; those TVs can’t be sold outside of Best Buy, he said. By contrast, smart TVs running Roku’s operating system can be sold anywhere. On top of that, the company expect Best Buy itself to carry more Roku TVs this holiday season than it did a year ago.
“Our smart TV business is going great,” he said. “We’re super-happy with that program.”
Roku’s shares closed regular trading on Wednesday up $3.24, or 5.8%, $58.86.
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