Why ICG Group Inc. Shares Popped

Is this meaningful? Or just another movement?

May 1, 2014 at 6:32PM

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 ICG Group (NASDAQ:ICGE) finished Thursday with a 6% gain after topping out at a gain of more than 11% in early trading. The company reported stronger-than-expected results for its fiscal first quarter before the opening bell.

So what: ICG's quarterly revenue grew 53% year over year, to hit $18.4 million, ahead of Wall Street's $17.8 million consensus, and its loss of $0.10 per share was narrower than the $0.13 loss analysts had expected. During their earnings call, company executives also reiterated their full-year guidance, which calls for a range of $78 million and $80 million in revenue, and a loss of anywhere from $0.36 to $0.41 per share for 2014. Both ranges are a shade better than Wall Street's estimate, which had pegged ICG's full-year revenue at $78.9 million and its loss at $0.40 per share.

Now what: ICG is a very unusual company that can't be properly assessed in the same way one would assess most other companies. It's never booked an operating profit, and yet it remains enormously profitable on a net basis because of a complex business model that would probably require a separate article to adequately explain to anyone who's never encountered it before. According to ICG's annual report, annual "revenue" has only exceeded reported GAAP net income once since 2009, which makes assessing its real opportunities on the basis of its guidance a bit silly. However, ICG's earnings call did reveal that its core products are all growing their top lines at strong double-digit rates, which is certainly worth some optimism. ICG's shares have nearly doubled during the past year, and have quadrupled in the past five years, so its management must be doing something right.

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