You would have to be nuts to exclude marketing costs, for example, when evaluating a company’s operational performance. The only thing helpful about this metric for investors is that it might help the company’s current owners someday flip their shares to the masses. Adjusted CSOI is a public relations gimmick, not a legitimate financial-reporting tool. If Groupon’s bosses want to keep citing it, they should describe it that way.
Jonathan Weil does a number on Groupon's claim that “adjusted consolidated segment operating income" (or CSOI) is the right metric on which to judge it's business. He deftly compares it to Adam Dunn's B.S Batting Average ("Before Strikeouts") which would have him batting .292 "before strikeouts" instead of the sub-Mendoza .162 that he currently owns. Baseball and consumer tech... these are a few of my favorite things!
Hey, if you think judging Groupon without its customer acquisition costs, stock-based comp expense and acquisition expenses is the right way to do it then CSOI is for you. Maybe there's a Billy Beane Moneyball lesson in there for us?