Groupon Drops Controversial Accounting Metric

| About: Groupon, Inc. (GRPN)

Daily deal site Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) filed an amendment to its S-1 on Wednesday, updating its financials for the second quarter and eliminating an unconventional and controversial accounting metric that appeared in earlier filings.

The non-GAAP metric, adjusted consolidated segment operating income (ACSOI), allowed Groupon to exclude significant expenses comprising online marketing and subscriber acquisition costs, letting the unprofitable company show a positive operating income metric. Groupon came under fire from investors and the SEC for highlighting the unusual measure as a key metric. Wednesday's amended filing relegates the ACSOI to a single mention in the CEO's open letter as an internally tracked metric.

Groupon, although still unprofitable on a net income basis, reported improved results for the second quarter of 2011. The company reported $878 million in revenue, up 36% from 1Q11 and an incredible 906% from the year-ago period. Groupon had 116 million subscribers at the end of the second quarter, an increase of 39% from 1Q11, but the average revenue per subscriber fell to $9 from $10 in the last quarter, suggesting that customer loyalty may still be a challenge. Groupon's operating loss narrowed to $103 million from $117 million in 1Q11, bolstered by an 18% sequential drop in marketing expense, and partly offset by significant investments in new initiatives, including Groupon NOW, Groupon Live and Groupon Getaways.

The latest results show that Groupon is still growing. However, profitability may remain elusive for some time as the company continues to pour money into its growth.

Groupon originally filed with the SEC to raise up to $750 million in an initial public offering this past June. The Chicago, IL,-based company plans to list under the symbol GRPN. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) are the lead underwriters on the deal. No pricing terms have been disclosed.