Here we go with the first big delivery headline of 2020: The Wall Street Journal reports that Grubhub, the second largest U.S. delivery provider, has hired a financial advisor to explore strategic options, possibly including a sale, as optimism has morphed into caution as large-scale delivery brands continue focusing on user growth above quarterly profits.
While Grubhub hasn’t commented on the WSJ report, the company took a beating in the press after reporting its third-quarter 2019 results, in which Grub missed analyst expectations and saw orders decrease 15 percent over the prior-year period. The collective reaction to the results caused the stock price to fall more than 40 percent. At the time, the Journal called the results a “gut check” for the food-delivery industry.
The story said the advisor’s options could include “a sale of the company or an acquisition,” but also the possibility of an activist investor taking a major stake in the Chicago-based company and forcing strategic change. WSJ reporters Maureen Farrell and Cara Lombardo added that it’s possible “nothing will come of it,” as well.
With Postmates delaying or aborting its previous plans to go public and Uber saying that it will either take a commanding presence in the delivery landscape or exit the business, there are a handful of possible options ranging from Postmates mustering the resources to purchase its larger rival or DoorDash squeezing more juice out of the SoftBank fruit to purchase Grubhub’s 450,000+ daily average users.
Grub shares rocketed up from approximately $49/share to $55 on the news, suggesting that skeptical analysts got their wish.
In that now-infamous investor call from last October, Grubhub CEO Matt Maloney and President Adam DeWitt assured company watchers that they shouldn’t focus too much on the latest results, because “we’re going to make a lot of money next year.”
Perhaps that was intended as the “royal we,” which could arrive in the form of a golden parachute.