Why Financial Engines, Inc. Shares Stalled

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Financial Engines (NASDAQ: FNGN  ) , a technology-enabled portfolio management services provider to employer-sponsored defined contribution plans, dipped as much as 18% after reporting its fourth-quarter earnings results after the closing bell last night.

So what: For the quarter, Financial Engines reported a 27% increase in revenue to $65.2 million as its professional management revenue soared 30% to $56.4 million. Assets under management also grew by $6.2 billion to $88.2 billion from the sequential third quarter. Adjusted net income vaulted higher as well, rising 45% to $11.9 million from $8.2 million in the year-ago quarter. However, this translated to $0.22 in EPS compared to Wall Street's forecast, which had called for EPS of $0.23.

Looking ahead, the company anticipates reporting full-year revenue of $274 million-$279 million in fiscal 2014 with adjusted EBITDA of $92 million-$94 million, representing adjusted-EBITDA growth of 17% at the midpoint. Extrapolating out its EBITDA forecast, I'd estimate this to equate to EPS in the $0.87-$0.90 range, depending on margins. By comparison, Wall Street was looking for $287.7 million in revenue and $0.94 in EPS for fiscal 2014.

Now what: Financial Engines has already had an impressive run higher, so a pullback was probably overdue. Overall, these results may not have met lofty expectations built up by the Street, but its assets under management growth and double-digit professional service growth will keep propelling its top and bottom lines higher. At close to 60 times 2014's profit potential, I'm still apt to keep my distance, but a major dip from current levels could necessitate a closer look, as it's clearly outpacing its competitors in the growth department.

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