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Yelp Stock Falls After Q4 Loss Worse Than Expected

Shares of reviews company Yelp (YELP) were down nearly 5% in afternoon trading Thursday after the company late Wednesday posted a wider loss than Wall Street expected, despite a sales beat.

San Francisco-based Yelp said it lost 8 cents per share, where analysts expected a 4-cent loss, according Thomson Reuters.

Sales rose 65% to $41.2 million, the company said in a press release. Analysts expected $40.3 million.

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The company’s still focused on growing its audience, which reached 100 million unique monthly visitors in January, CEO Jeremy Stoppelman told analysts on a conference call Wednesday. The site ended 2012 with content for 97 markets in 20 countries, he says. And mobile queries accounted for 46% of searches in Q4. About 9 million users per month used Yelp’s mobile app in Q4.

“It’s clear that mobile isn’t just a part of our business anymore, it’s becoming our business, and we see tremendous opportunity in front of us,” Stoppelman said.

Yelp tracked some 13 million phone calls to businesses via its site in Q4 — when a user searches for a business on Yelp, they’re prompted with a phone number they can call.

Mobile ads accounted for 25% of local advertising in Q4, which is strong for a new type of ad, wrote Citigroup analyst Neil Doshi in a research note.

“We believe Q4 results were a positive step toward reducing mobile monetization concerns,” wrote Doshi, who rates Yelp stock as neutral.

The company says it’s spending less on sales and marketing. Spending there equaled 62% of revenue in Q4, down from 64% in Q4 2011, Robert Krolik, Yelp’s chief financial officer, said on the call.

Of 15 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, 10 rate Yelp stock as neutral or hold, and four rate it a buy.

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