Groupon IPO Case Analysis

Answer following 6 questions one by one:

1. Compare and contrast the business model of Groupon with the business models of Amazon and Wal-Mart. Referring to the risk factors in the MD&A sections of their 10-Ks, compare significant risks and opportunities across these companies. How do these business risks translate to risks in financial reporting?

2. In the months leading up to Groupon’s IPO, the SEC posed a number of questions regarding Groupon’s choice of accounting principles for revenue recognition. Specifically, the SEC referred to the requirements in FASB’s ASC 605-45-45.

a. Compare the amount of revenue reported in the original and amended S-1s. What caused the difference?

b. Which of the two amounts do you think Groupon preferred? Why did they prefer it?

c. With reference to ASC 605-45-45, which of Groupon’s arguments were weak, and why?

3. Groupon had recognized revenue for the sale of high-ticket items in late 2011. Purchasers of the Groupons have a right of return, as specified in the ‘‘Groupon Promise,’’ prominently featured on its website.

a. Assess the U.S. GAAP requirement for recognition of revenue when right of return exists, in the context of Groupon’s business model.

b. Do you agree with Groupon’s accounting? Why or why not?

4. Groupon’s restatement of 2011 fourth-quarter financials resulted in a reduction of $14.3 million of revenues and a decrease of $30 million of operating income. However, its operating cash flow was unaffected. Explain how this is possible.

5. In your opinion, do the problems with Groupon’s choice of accounting methods and use of non-GAAP metric reflect a lack of management experience or a lack of management integrity?

6. In its initial S-1 filing, Groupon presented a non-GAAP performance metric called ACSOI. It was subsequently removed after the SEC objected.

a. Why did the SEC question the inclusion of ACSOI in Groupon’s financial statements?

b. Non-GAAP metrics are common in some industries. These include: Value-at-Risk in the financial sector, same-store-sales in retail, revenue-passenger-miles for airlines, and order-backlog in the semiconductor industry. Explain two of these metrics and assess their value to financial statement users.

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