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Shares of advertising technology (adtech) company The Trade Desk (NASDAQ: TTD) got crushed on Friday after the company provided financial guidance that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. As of 10 a.m. ET, The Trade Desk stock was down roughly 18%.

The Trade Desk rarely disappoints

The Trade Desk just reported financial results for the third quarter of 2023, and Q3 numbers didn’t disappoint. The company had guided for revenue of $485 million. But it generated Q3 revenue of $493 million, which was better than guidance and up 25% year over year.

On the bottom line, The Trade Desk had provided guidance for adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). It expected $185 million in Q3 adjusted EBITDA. But it did slightly better on this count as well, delivering adjusted EBITDA of $200 million.

The Trade Desk rarely disappoints when it comes to exceeding its own guidance. And that was the case again in Q3, which means that this wasn’t the problem. To the contrary, the stock is getting crushed because of management’s guidance.

What’s wrong with guidance?

For the upcoming fourth quarter, The Trade Desk expects to generate revenue of $580 million. This would be healthy year-over-year growth of about 18%. And remember that the company routinely outperforms, so tack on an extra percentage point or two to the growth rate.

However, The Trade Desk’s management didn’t instill utmost confidence in the market today. CFO Laura Schenkein said, “We have seen more macroeconomic uncertainty at the start of Q4.” And investors don’t like uncertainty.

Moreover, even though 18% growth is still healthy, it’s The Trade Desk’s slowest growth rate apart from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the chart below shows.

TTD Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) data by YCharts

The market is simply knocking The Trade Desk stock down to earth because its growth is slowing and there’s uncertainty. That said, the business is still growing nonetheless and taking market share. And the adtech industry seems positioned for long-term growth. So investors may want to take a close look at this stock after today’s price cut.

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Jon Quast has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends The Trade Desk. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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