Roku shares skyrocket almost 55% as sales crush Wall Street estimates

Key Points
  • Roku posts a narrower loss than Wall Street estimated, thanks to better-than-expected sales in its first earnings report as a public company.
  • The streaming technology company went public in late September in a $252 million IPO.
Roku CEO on first quarterly earnings

Roku shares popped nearly 55 percent on Thursday, a day after the company posted a narrower-than-expected loss.

In its first earnings report after its initial public offering, the streaming technology company also beat expectations for sales.

Expectations vs. results

  • Adjusted EPS: 10 cents loss, excluding items, vs. loss of $1.37 expected by a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.
  • Revenue: $124.8 million vs. estimate of $110.5 million by Thomson Reuters' consensus.

The company went public in late September in a $252 million IPO. Its fortunes have risen alongside services like Netflix that have moved TV viewership online, often using devices made by Roku. Netflix also reported better-than-expected results last quarter.

"Our business really is about building active accounts," CEO Anthony Wood told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" Thursday. "For us, selling players is just a great way to build up active accounts and we optimize that business around volume of players."

Roku saw a 48 percent year-over-year increase in active accounts, and a 58 percent yearly increase in streaming hours. This quarter, DirecTV Now and Hulu Live were added to the Roku platform.

Wood said a potential tie-up between Disney and 21st Century Fox, adding another over-the-top content-maker to the mix, would only serve to drive business for Roku.

"We are the leading OTT distribution company in the U.S. and so those companies naturally come to Roku for distribution of their content, and we're just a great partner for them," Wood said. "Those companies, as they shift to OTT, that is what's driving our business."

Roku is also in the process of expanding its advertising business to better monetize its viewership. It said the advertising segment has more than doubled this year, reporting that it makes about $12.68 per user, up 37 percent from a year ago on a trailing 12-month basis.

"Everyone over time is going to shift to streaming, and I think importantly, the entire ad business — television ad business, which today is still predominantly on traditional linear TV — is moving to streaming as they follow their viewers to streaming," Wood said.

The company predicted it could break even next quarter, before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, if it performs on the high end of estimates.

- CNBC's Michael Sheetz contributed to this report.

Disclosure: Comcast, which owns CNBC parent NBCUniversal, is a co-owner of Hulu.

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