Growth slows again for Robinhood; stock falls after earnings

NEW YORK (AP) — Growth keeps slowing for Robinhood Markets, the upstart company that upended the brokerage industry, and its stock keeps falling.

The company whose easy-to-use trading app helped bring a new generation of investors to the market said Thursday that its revenue rose 14% in the fourth quarter from a year ago, less than half its growth rate in the summer months.

The company also warned that revenue in the current quarter could sag sharply from a year earlier. The forecast was weaker than Wall Street was expecting, and Robinhood's shares fell 11.5% after the market closed, following up on a 6.4% loss in the regular trading session.

The $362.7 million in revenue that Robinhood made during the last three months of 2021 fell short of analysts' expectations for $376.3 million. So did its net loss of $423.3 million, or 49 cents per share. Wall Street was looking for a loss of 35 cents, according to FactSet.

Robinhood’s business does best when people use its app to trade often, because it makes money by routing their orders to market makers and big trading firms. That wasn’t a problem in the first quarter of 2021, when hordes of smaller-pocketed investors banded together to drive shares of GameStop, AMC and other “meme stocks” to dizzying levels. Nor was it an issue in the second quarter of 2021, when record-breaking jumps for dogecoin and other cryptocurrencies drove another surge of trading.

The question is whether traders will trade as much on their phones now. Conditions may get only tougher for markets as the Federal Reserve looks set to raise interest rates sharply in an effort to tame inflation.

Since the start of 2022, Robinhood has seen customers making fewer trades and in smaller amounts, Chief Financial Officer Jason Warnick said in a conference call following the release of the results. But in the last few days, he said, Robinhood has seen higher levels of trading and engagement.

“It's too soon to say” whether that ends up becoming a sustainable trend, he said. But the company said its revenue may total less than $340 million for the first three months of 2022. That would be down significantly from the $522.2 million it took in during the first quarter of 2021 and more than $100 million below what analysts were forecasting.

Robinhood’s stock has been steadily falling since touching $85 shortly after its initial public offering last summer. It's down 34.6% already in 2022.

“Let's not sugarcoat it, we've been disappointed," Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev said about the stock's recent performance in the conference call discussing the quarterly results.

But he said the company is making investments to grow over the long term, and it expects costs to grow more slowly going forward.

“I've never been more optimistic" about the future of Robinhood, Tenev said.