Intersections Is No LifeLock

Given Target's embarrassing holiday hack, one would think that this would be a great time to be toiling away in identity theft and risk management solutions. However, that's clearly not the case if we go by last night's quarterly report out of Intersections (NASDAQ: INTX  ) .

Intersections continues to suffer from defecting subscribers. Revenue slipped 14%, to $72.1 million for the quarter -- and off 11%, to $310.3 million for all of 2013 -- as financial institutions continue to bow out. Total subscribers have plummeted, going from 4.5 million when the year began to just 2.9 million by the end of December. 

If the slide at Intersections seems to be a sharp contrast to LifeLock (NYSE: LOCK  ) experiencing 35 consecutive quarters of sequential increases in revenue and subscribers, one big difference is that LifeLock is largely a consumer-facing monitoring service. Intersections relies primarily on U.S. banks and other financial institutions to push its identity-theft platform as an add-on product. Given the broader regulatory scrutiny in the banking industry, many financial institutional clients of Intersections have stopped marketing its products.

Intersections points out that business is growing slightly in Canada, and also with its consumer-direct offering, but this accounts for just a quarter of its revenue at the moment. It may take a long time before that starts to move the needle.

Target's situation, with millions of shopper credit and debit card information getting swiped, was unfortunate, and it's not getting any prettierLast week, the cheap-chic discounter admitted that its security system tipped it off to suspicious activity well before the company acted on it and disseminated the warning. This is the kind of stuff that should send consumers scrambling for monitoring services for early detection of any potential breaches. Financial institutions should be able to sell Intersections' platform with ease. However, it's just not playing out that way.

LifeLock's doing just fine. Revenue climbed 30% in its latest quarter, with adjusted earnings more than doubling. Intersections and LifeLock are passing ships, with one company's rolls falling below 3 million subscribers as the other just crossed it late last year.

Intersections doesn't expect things to get better anytime soon. It's forecasting revenue to fall 11% to 18% this year. Its guidance calling for $300 million in revenue next year is a bounce, but still below what it rang up in each of the past few years. It's pointing to $400 million as a target for 2016 once it gains more traction for its Identity Guard and VOYCE brands. However, if you're going to be bold enough to believe an outlook that is three years out coming from a fading company in a niche that's coming under regulatory scrutiny, you're more of a risk taker than someone letting an Intersections subscription lapse.

LifeLock isn't cheap using conventional measuring sticks, especially when pitted against Intersections. However, it's the one that's growing in this seemingly ideal climate.

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