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Update on $ROKU – Will Roku Miss Earnings?

Will Roku miss earnings? I believe Roku will miss earnings at times, but for the big picture, Roku is at the center of an important trend in advertising and this will make for decent returns now and sizable returns in the future. I also don’t play the earnings game often with stocks as my analysis does not change monthly or quarterly. My conviction on Roku is high and can withstand trade war news or a fledgling quarter, which is normal for smaller companies on the edge of incipient trends.

What Investors Got Wrong With Roku

The first thing Wall Street got wrong with Roku is that investors thought Roku was a hardware player. Although it is clear now that the ad platform is what will drive the profits, this wasn’t evident in the financials for a few earnings reports. My three pieces of analysis in 2018 were the opposite; I made my readers aware the ad platform was where the growth potential was.

The second thing Wall Street gets wrong is assuming Google or Amazon can dominate over-the-top television because they are Big Tech and smaller companies don’t have a chance. Google struggles here and recently raised the prices on YouTube television to $49, which for the most part, negates the purpose of cord-cutting when you add a few subscriptions like Netflix or HBO Go, and end up at the monthly cost of cable. Amazon is pushing into ads for OTT, however, there will be privacy regulations to face as the data powering those ads is being brokered without consent from e-commerce and Prime purchases. You can ask Facebook how that is going for them.

Roku has all of the pieces to the stack. The hardware is a razor-razor blade model that locks in their ad-supported platform. They’re OTT-only, and this prevents privacy issues for the data they collect from the device (this is why Apple is always in the clear with privacy issues – data stay s on the device).

Analyst Expectations Low for Q1 2019

Interestingly, the consensus EPS forecast for Roku is negative $0.24 compared to negative $0.07 same quarter last year with analyst expectations of declining growth. Meanwhile, Roku had posted EPS of $0.05 last quarter. Here’s a screenshot of Roku’s earnings per share vs. consensus:

Roku earnings

TradeDesk is also a Connected TV advertising player and reports on May 9th with analysts expecting declining growth from the previous quarter with estimates at $0.07 per share.

Roku earnings

With that said, advertising is driving record profits for many companies who have already reported this quarter, such as Facebook and Twitter. This is why I’m surprised (and don’t necessarily agree with) the low analyst expectations for both Roku and TradeDesk as these expectations of -$0.24 for Roku and $0.07 for TradeDesk are some of the lowest in these stocks’ earnings histories (1+ year or more).

My Opinion “Long on Roku Even if They Miss Q1 Earnings”

That was my headline last May in 2018 even though Roku did not miss Q1 2018 earnings. My stance on this stock remains the same. Roku is a core holding of mine because of the mega trend towards Connected TV advertising. To put it simply, and as I wrote before Q1 2018 earnings were reported, Roku beating or missing earnings is not my focus for a long strategy based on an important trend. I fully expect tech companies to miss earnings from time to time (this creates better buying opportunities). This won’t change my conviction that Connected TV advertising is on an important upward trajectory.

Here’s some more information on the Connected TV market:

“Two of the big trends in digital media aren’t compatible: The drive to enforce viewability standards and the shift to mobile, particularly apps.” – Digiday

Viewability issues are a serious issue for big brands who are averse to mobile in-app advertising because it’s too challenging to track. In addition, many big brands do not need immediate purchases which is called “purchase intent” – which is mobile’s main value over television.

For instance, Coca-cola doesn’t expect you to buy a soda immediately after seeing an ad. Audi doesn’t expect you to buy a car immediately either. So, a lot of the benefits of mobile aren’t worth the downside to these big brands. Advertising budgets shifted to mobile because they had to find audiences, not because it’s a superior method to advertise.

 Here’s how the two compare:

  • Pay TV has high completion rates as viewers are comfortable in their homes and better prepared to receive advertisements.
    • There are no viewability issues as the screen is designed for a full-width advertisement. This means 100% viewability.
    • Viewers are engaged for lengthy periods of time and want to see the show. Engagement in this setting is far superior to mobile.
  • Mobile offers audience data to better target viewers based on individual preferences.
    • Mobile has better purchase intent for advertisers who want an immediate purchase.
    • Dynamic ad insertion allows an advertisement to be inserted based on personalized interests. (So, I may see a different ad than what you will see).
    • Mobile has poor viewability and engagement and offers little transparency on these metrics.

Connected TV advertising, which is Roku’s specialty, combines the best of both television and mobile. It offers 100% viewability and completion rates with the audience data and dynamic ad insertion found on mobile. Forbes covered this in a recent article which stated Ad Supported OTT is the future reporting OTT ads have a 97% completion rate and 100% viewability.

In a recent study by FreeWheel, 200 billion video starts found OTT ads had ballooned from 2% to 32% in a four-year period due to heavier investments from advertisers.

In the Q2 2018 Video Advertising benchmark study released by Extreme Reach, a tech platform for video ad campaigns, connected TV impressions overtook mobile, accounting for 38 percent of all video ad impressions down from 33 percent in Q1.

Here’s a quote from Extreme Reach:

“CTV is clearly on the path to becoming the dominant platform for media consumption, and premium inventory is the most sure-fire audience draw.”

– Mary Vestewig, Senior Director, Video Account Management at Extreme Reach.

AppNexus, the world’s leading independent advertising technology company, announced in July of 2018 that advertiser spend in its connected TV marketplace grew 748% year-over-year versus the second quarter of 2017 and 68% quarter-over-quarter. AppNexus currently sees 20 billion monthly connected TV impressions per month.

From an investment standpoint, the implications of attracting more advertising dollars than mobile is enormous. Big brand budgets have been looking for a solution to traditional television that isn’t confined to the attention span and limited screen size of mobile viewers. With Roku, that option is finally here.

Please note: I’ve also covered TradeDesk, another stock doing well by capturing the Connected TV advertising trend. You can read that analysis here on FATrader and why the risks with TradeDesk have personally kept me from buying the stock although many of my readers have seen 400% returns on $TTD.

This analysis is not an earnings call. The purpose of this article is to revisit a few trends and predictions I made around this time last year in regards to Roku.

I am not a financial advisor. I’m a tech analyst. These are my opinions.


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2 Comments

  1. Curt Curt

    If ads have higher Viewability and Complete rates on CTV/OTT, then am I correct to assume that ROKU could potentially overtake Google and Facebook?

    • beth.technology beth.technology

      Roku has a great business model and is in the center of an important trend. I’d say they have some work to do to scale the product and an OTT channel won’t reach the scale of Google or Facebook, but we are also early in the trend so this is a core holding of mine.

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