Bankrate Takes a Beating

The lowest interest rates in nearly half a century and rarely seen levels of mortgage loan applications and refinancings have put online mortgage information and service providers like Bankrate.com (Nasdaq: RATE  ) and Homestore (Nasdaq: HOMS  ) in the right place at the right time.

Bankrate.com is a portal primarily to mortgage, credit card, auto loan, and other banking-related services. It has partnerships with Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) AOL division, Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) , and Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) MSN, among others. Additionally, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Federal Reserve all rely on the company for reliable interest rate data.

The company today reported that revenues for the first quarter increased 20% to $10.3 million, while net income grew 17% to $2.4 million. This a small but growing company with no debt that gets its revenue primarily through online advertising. It's proving that with a powerful brand and content that is useful to its visitors, online advertising is still a viable revenue source.

Recently the stock has fallen as have shares of most companies considered to be interest-rate sensitive. The stock's off close to 3% today, trading at $12 and change, down from a 52-week high of $20.98.

It's certainly possible that the company could be affected by a rising rate environment if mortgage activity and advertising by banking institutions slow, though, it is equally likely that an improving economy will drive up such activities, more than offsetting the impact of increased rates. Even as the Federal Reserve does finally begin to raise interest rates (it didn't do so today, though), they will still be at very low levels for some time to come, which will continue to spell success for Bankrate.

Check out our Rates Center for mortgage, home equity, checking, and auto loan rates. Or, if you want to refinance and haven't done so yet, check out our Home Center.

Fool contributor Mark Mahorney doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned.


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