Why Criteo Stock Pulled Back on Wednesday

What happened

Shares of advertising-technology company Criteo (NASDAQ: CRTO) pulled back on Wednesday after the company reported results for the third quarter of 2020. Top- and bottom-line results were ahead of expectations but were still sharply down year over year. Furthermore, guidance for the fourth quarter indicates the company will continue to be growth challenged, and investors didn't seem to like that. As of 3 p.m. EDT, Criteo stock was down less than 1% but it had been down as much as 10% earlier in the day.

So what

For Q3, Criteo's revenue fell 10% year over year. Management estimates the COVID-19 pandemic cost the company $80 million in revenue. Assuming that's true, revenue would have been up 5% from the the third quarter of 2019. But the drop in revenue was costly. Net income was just $5 million -- down $16 million from last year. Management attributed $12 million of this to restructuring costs.

A frustrated man looks at his laptop computer.

Image source: Getty Images.

While other ad-tech companies are reporting improving results, Criteo maintains a cautious outlook. Specifically, management is looking at Europe. The company's revenue for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) accounted for 36% of total Q3 revenue. Right now, surging coronavirus numbers are threatening to shut down the region more than it already is, which would likely lead to a decline in advertising demand. This is one reason management is guiding for an adjusted revenue decline of 15% year over year in the upcoming fourth quarter.

Now what

Criteo stock currently trades almost 70% below three-year highs. From a valuation perspective, it looks cheap from a variety of metrics. But the cheap stock reflects investor concerns with third-party cookies. Management rightly points out it collects a lot of first-party data, but the company still relies on third-party browser cookies nonetheless. These allow for targeted ads, but privacy concerns keep pushing cookies closer to theoretical extinction. Therefore, Criteo needs to keep looking for new ways to thrive in a cookie-less world.

To that end, Criteo made another announcement today. It's collaborating with The Trade Desk (NASDAQ: TTD) on a project called Unified ID 2.0. This is a potential alternative to the browser cookie and it will allow for targeted ads while still addressing privacy concerns.

As demand-side advertising platforms, Criteo and The Trade Desk are competitors -- Criteo specifically mentions The Trade Desk as a competitor in SEC filings. To me, the collaboration demonstrates that this issue is bigger than either company. It's in the best interest of both to develop stronger alternatives to browser cookies, contributing to the long-term viability of ad platforms like this.

10 stocks we like better than Criteo
When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Criteo wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

See the 10 stocks

*Stock Advisor returns as of October 20, 2020

Jon Quast has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends The Trade Desk. The Motley Fool recommends Criteo. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


More Related Articles

Sign up for Smart Investing to get the latest news, strategies and tips to help you invest smarter.