[PORTLAND] Groupon could divest four businesses in the next two years, netting as much as US$730 million, to raise cash as it expands into an e-commerce marketplace, according to Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos.
Groupon has a market value of about US$5 billion, though it should be closer to $6 billion because those businesses are undervalued, Mr Munster said. A majority stake in its Ticket Monster business, which offers daily deals and e-commerce services in South Korea, could fetch about US$500 million, while smaller units might yield between US$30 million and US$100 million each, he said.
"What is safe to say is that Groupon has several stealth assets that are generally underappreciated by investors as far as overall value," said Mr Munster, who is based in Minneapolis. Private equity firms are the most likely buyers, he said.
With a stock that trades at little more than a third of its 2011 initial public offering price, Groupon has shifted its focus from e-mailed daily deals to competing with Amazon.com and EBay as a marketplace. To do so, it will need to sell some non-core properties to free up more cash to invest in the initiative, some analysts said. As of the end of December, the Chicago-based company had about US$1 billion in cash and cash equivalents.
Groupon has struggled for years to boost sales growth and post an annual profit. Co-founder Eric Lefkofsky took over as chief executive officer in 2013 to oversee the transition to a marketplace. It was under his helm that Groupon bought most of the businesses that analysts say it may now sell to raise cash.
While Groupon has said it's considering strategic options for Ticket Monster, it hasn't publicly disclosed any divestment plans. Nicholas Halliwell, a spokesman for the company, declined to comment on whether Groupon is looking to sell any of its other businesses.
"They are looking to re-establish what their core is," said Peter Krasilovsky, chief analyst at researcher BIA/Kelsey.
The company may be considering a sale of part or all of Breadcrumb, a unit providing point-of-sale gear to businesses, media site Re/code reported earlier this month.
Groupon bought Ticket Monster in 2014 for US$260 million from LivingSocia. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is negotiating to buy a stake, the Seoul Economic Daily reported in March, citing unidentified people in investment banking industry.
Groupon purchased its online flash-fashion seller Ideel for US$43 million last year, and that asset may now be worth US$100 million, Piper's Munster said. Breadcrumb, which Groupon bought in 2012 for an undisclosed amount, may also bring in US$100 million, while its stake in home services booking site ClubLocal could draw as much as US$30 million, he said. The assets will likely be "spun out or sold," Mr Munster said.
"This might be an opportune time to sell," said Paul Sweeney, director of North American research at Bloomberg Intelligence. "Since they bought these things, technology valuations have actually gone up, so maybe they can get some decent value." Groupon shares have climbed 28 per cent in the past six months to US$7.39 in New York. Still they are 63 per cent below the IPO price of US$20 set in November 2011.
Proceeds from the sales could help Groupon make acquisitions to expand its e-commerce operations, including online retailers or a payments business, Mr Sweeney said.
Another option - buying a service that delivers food or goods to customers, Tom Taulli, the author of The Complete M&A Handbook, said in an interview. Or it could put the money into new fulfillment centers, Mr Sweeney said.
Groupon is testing Groupon Stores, where businesses can post their offerings. It's also testing movie downloads from its site.