October 4, 2017 / 5:44 PM / 17 days ago

Canada's Shopify slides after Citron criticism

TORONTO (Reuters) - Shopify Inc (SHOP.TO) (SHOP.N) shares fell by over 11 percent on Wednesday after short-seller Citron Research said the Canadian provider of online retailing software was overvalued, according to traders and analysts.

Canadian e-commerce company Shopify Inc logo is shown on a computer screen in the illustration photo in Encinitas, California May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Citron’s Andrew Left criticized the company’s marketing practices in a report released on Wednesday, saying it uses a network of affiliates to promote its services and “oversells” the potential for profit.

The stock, which had been trading near all-time highs recently, closed down around 11.5 percent at $103 in New York and C$129 in Toronto. Citron, which profits from bets that stock prices will fall, set an immediate price target of $60.

A Shopify spokeswoman declined to comment.

In the past, the 13-year-old Shopify has said partners are an important part of its business and while it “can not expect every single merchant to succeed, we are confident that Shopify gives merchants the best chance at success.”

In its last quarterly report, the $10.2 billion market cap company said it has more than half a million merchants using Shopify to launch stores, including major brands like Visa Inc (V.N) and BuzzFeed.

The company, which makes money from subscription and payment processing fees, has yet to turn a profit.

“It’s a high quality company with a high quality management team,” said Samad Samana, a senior research analyst with Stephens Inc, who declined to comment specifically on Citron’s report. Shopify’s business was “trending in the right direction,” he said, adding that profit margins would come over time.

Trading volume was more than 12 times its 90-day average in the United States and about five times in Toronto.

Comments by Left, the founder of Citron, often affect share prices. He sparked an investigation into the relationship between Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX.TO) and now-shuttered Philidor with a report issued in October 2015.

He was banned for five years from the Hong Kong market last year, after a tribunal found him culpable of market misconduct over one of its research reports. Left said at the time the decision did not properly reflect the case.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Jim Finkle and Rosalba O'Brien

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