Blue Apron Jumps After Adding New Customers, Narrowing Loss

(Bloomberg) -- Blue Apron Inc. shares jumped Thursday after reporting that it added new customers in the first quarter and narrowed losses.

The meal-kit delivery company boosted spending on marketing late last year in an effort to lure in new customers and retain existing ones. Blue Apron said the number of customers grew 5 percent from the previous quarter, though they’re still down 24 percent from a year earlier.

This marks the second quarter of positive news for New-York-based Blue Apron, which is struggling to right itself after a difficult first six months as a public company. Since the June 2017 initial public offering, growth evaporated, competitors rushed in and one of its main meal-packing centers suffered technical problems. Brad Dickerson took over as chief executive officer from the company’s co-founder in November and vowed to turn things around.

The shares rose 6.7 percent to $2.24 at 9:32 a.m. in New York. They were down 48 percent this year through Wednesday.

Blue Apron reported it had 786,000 customers at the end of March, up from 746,000 in the December quarter. It posted a net loss of $31.7 million, or 17 cents a share, after a loss of $52.2 million, or 78 cents a year ago. Analysts had estimated a loss of 24 cents on average. Revenue fell 20 percent to $196.7 million, driven by a drop in customers and orders after the company slashed marketing spending in the second half of 2017.

Blue Apron’s customers are also spending more on the company’s signature boxes of semi-prepared food and recipes. The average revenue per customer was $250 in the first quarter, up from $236 a year earlier and $248 in the fourth quarter.

Blue Apron said it sees a net loss of $32.5 million to $37.5 million in the second quarter.

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