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Chegg has shown cracks before - but the yoke's on anyone who shorts its shares

2 weeks ago by Jon Marino in Earnings

We've nailed an awful lot of earnings calls thanks to our alternative data here at Thinknum. 

But there's been one repeat-offender to our best analysis: Chegg ($NYSE:CHGG). Social data doesn't look so hot? Job postings sliding? Nothing stops the almighty Chegg, which has topped analysts' expectations each of the last four quarters en route to 23% market gains, putting it ahead of a whole lot of white-hot IPOs and so-called 'next thing' startups that may not outlast the Santa Clara-based online retailer of college textbooks and affiliated services.

Chegg job postings keep sliding - but they've continued to slide as the company continues to see shares perform better. Over a little bit more than one year's time, Chegg job postings have declined a whopping 58%. 

We know that companies that are weighing buyouts have a tendency to slash their job postings leading up to a deal, but Chegg's decline has been more slow and steady than what precedes most M&A situations - so while it could be an attractive deal candidate, at this point, any buyer is facing a premium and not buying in at a discount. 

Sure, so, the job postings may not look terribly appetizing - but the engagement rate with Chegg's 'Homework Help App' is solid, and continuing on a decent trajectory. Making matters better for Chegg is the fact that its app that has gotten the most engagement in the Apple Store, at least from the standpoint of the number of reviews submitted, is also getting better ratings as consumers spend more time with the app. 

In the past, we've pointed toward alternative data signaling a social slowdown for Chegg. That, too, was a false positive - likely because the same people engaging with Chegg's app and its products are using a more diverse portfolio of social media to entertain themselves and network with friends. Other than it being a weird chart, there may not be too much to say about this particular piece of data. 

Analysts tracked by Zacks Investment Research are looking for EPS of $0.17 per share when it announces earnings Monday, February 10. 

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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