Why Conversant Inc. Shares Plunged Today

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 Conversant Inc. (NASDAQ: CNVR  ) fell more than 11% early Wednesday, and then settled to close down around 7% after the company turned in solid first-quarter results but followed with disappointing guidance.

So what: Formerly known as ValueClick, Conversant's revenue increased 8% year over year to $145.9 million. That translated to 3% growth in adjusted net income and $0.67 per diluted share. Analysts, on average, were looking for adjusted earnings of only $0.39 per share on sales of $141.6 million.

For the current quarter, however, Conversant expects revenue in the range of $135 million to $140 million, with adjusted net income per share of $0.34 to $0.35. By contrast, analysts were modeling second-quarter earnings of $0.39 per share on sales of $139.07 million.

Now what: Conversant CFO John Pitstick elaborated: "Our second-quarter guidance implies fairly consistent revenue growth with the first quarter and reflects the significant investments we are making in our people and products. The midpoint of our earnings guidance for Q2 reflects approximately $10 million of additional cash operating expenses as compared to the year ago period."

That's fair enough, but I can't blame the market for bidding down shares as increased operating expenses eat into the bottom line. For now, until the market has time to fully digest today's news and adjust expectations for Conversant accordingly, I think investors would be wise to hold off on using the drop as a buying opportunity.

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