Sonos (NASDAQ: SONOS) announced mixed performance and upbeat guidance when it released fourth-quarter results on Wednesday. The maker of wireless speakers beat estimates for revenue but missed on earnings and EBITDA. Sonos shares traded 1% higher in after-hours trade.
Sonos also announced that it has acquired Snips, an AI-powered voice platform, for $37.5 million. The platform, which is private-by-design, will be integrated with the Sonos application. This is significant as some analysts felt Sonos was missing out to products with better voice control functionality.
Despite the acquisition, Sonos will continue to tread water in our view as it faces stiff competition from Apple, Google and Amazon among others, in these companies’ quest to harvest data through speaker-based voice search.
While there are question marks about Sonos’ ability to compete in voice search, the stock is not going to retest the IPO highs.
We recommend investors wait for confirmation that new AI product rollouts are catching on with consumers before building a position.
Revenue Growth in Line with Targets
Revenue for the quarter ended Sept. 28 was $294.2 million, up 7.8% from a year earlier and $5.1 million ahead of analysts’ estimates. For the full year, sales grew 11% to $1.26 billion, in line with the company’s target. The gross margin fell marginally to 42.2%. The gross margin for the full year also fell slightly to 41.8%.
Sonos posted a loss of $0.28 per share, versus a $0.02 loss a year ago and missed estimates by 6 cents. The $5 million net loss for the full year improved from $16 million for the previous year. Full-year adjusted EBITDA increased by 28% to $89 million.
The quarterly earnings miss was primarily attributable to a 28.5% increase in operating costs during the quarter. General and administrative expenses rose 34% while R&D spending rose 31%. For the full year, spending rose just 4.7% and accounted for 41.4% of revenue.
The company generated free cash flow of $97 million for the year and will now embark on a $50 million share buyback.
Sonos products are now used in 9 million households globally after 1.7 million households were added during the year. Existing product owners accounted for 37% of sales, and the average number of Sonos products per household is now 2.9. During the year Sonos launched 4 new products of its own and two products with IKEA.
Margins to Stay Flat Due to Trade Tariffs
Sonos expects to earn revenue of between $1.36 to $1.4 billion in the next full year, representing growth of 8 to 11%. The company expects its margin to be hit by a $30 million charge related to trade tariffs. The company expects the trade tariffs to keep its gross margin roughly flat in the next year.
Sonos is facing stiff competition from the likes of Roku, Amazon and Apple. In September, Roku unveiled two new speakers, the Smart Soundbar and the Wireless Subwoofer. These are in addition to the wireless TV speakers the company released last year.
Despite the competition, Sonos has managed to continue to build partnerships with streaming platforms and maintain an open platform. Its partnership with IKEA also seems to be paying off and exposes its products to a wider audience. Many investors also view Sonos as a potential acquisition target.
Since its IPO in August last year, Sonos has underperformed both of its most comparable peers, Spotify and Roku. However, the stock price has formed a strong base at $10 and has outperformed during the last quarter.