Roku promises cost cuts, sees robust first-quarter revenue; shares jump

Reuters | February 15, 2023

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By Tiyashi Datta

(Reuters) -Roku Inc said on Wednesday it was keeping a lid on costs and forecast first-quarter revenue above Wall Street estimates, as the company bet on its streaming devices and content platform to drive growth.

Shares of the San Jose, California-based company rose 20% in after-market trading and later pared gains to 10% after Roku also beat fourth-quarter revenue estimates and reported a 16% jump in active users.

Roku, which has benefited from the rise in subscription-based streaming services, has pushed to put out more original content on its own streaming channel to gain subscribers and advertisers.

“Despite tightening advertising budgets in the fourth quarter, ad spend on the Roku platform outperformed the overall ad and traditional TV markets in the U.S.,” the company said in a statement.

Advertisers have cut their marketing budgets due to record-high inflation rates. Roku said while pressure on ad budgets would continue in the near term, ad spending from restaurants, travel firms, consumer packaged goods and health and wellness had improved in the first quarter.

“Roku is showing that it has staying power even in the face of increasing competition from other smart TV brands and platforms,” said Jamie Lumley, senior analyst at Third Bridge.

Roku’s stock, which closed 12% higher, had lost nearly a third of its value in 2022 but is up 56% so far this year.

“Importantly, we plan to continue to improve our operating expense profile to better manage through the challenging macro environment,” Roku said in a letter to shareholders, echoing comments from U.S. tech firms that have laid off thousands of employees in the past months.

Roku said in November it would cut 200 jobs in the U.S.

The company forecast revenue of $700 million for the first quarter, 1.3% above expectations, according to Refinitiv. For the quarter that ended Dec. 31, it reported revenue of $867.1 million, beating analysts’ estimates of $801.7 million.

On an adjusted basis, Roku posted a loss of $1.70 per share, narrower than an estimated loss of $1.73 per share.

Jeff Wlodarczak, an analyst with Pivotal Research, was skeptical about the share run. He called the guidance “weak” and noted a giant short squeeze in the market this week.

(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Shailesh Kuber)


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