Foolish Forecast: aQuantive Goes Out in Style

Thursday morning, we get to spend some quality time with aQuantive (Nasdaq: AQNT  ) , as the digital marketing expert reports second-quarter earnings. Maybe that's quantity time? No matter -- we've geared up the quantum mechanics engine to give you the lowdown on what to expect.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? Twenty-one firms follow aQuantive, and they seem pretty happy with the share price today. Three analysts have a buy rating on the stock, one wants to sell, and the other 17 have placed it on hold.
  • Revenues. $152.8 million would satisfy the average analyst, which is a 44.6% increase from last year's $105.6 million. Management guidance points to a range between $148 million and $153 million.
  • Earnings. The consensus forecast says $0.16 per share, not far from the year-ago $0.15 per-share performance. The company expects $13 million to $14.5 million, which translates into a $0.16-$0.18 range per share.

What management does:
What we have here is a stable margins framework supporting breathless growth ratios. It's a beautiful thing, and any software Brobdingnagian would be proud to fold these numbers into its own. I'm getting ahead of myself -- do read on.

Margins

12/2005

3/2006

6/2006

9/2006

12/2006

3/2007

Gross

41.4%

40.8%

41.3%

41.1%

40.8%

40.6%

Operating

19.8%

19.6%

20.7%

21.1%

21.4%

20.8%

Net

11.4%

10.8%

11.3%

11.4%

12.2%

12.3%

Y-O-Y Growth

12/2005

3/2006

6/2006

9/2006

12/2006

3/2007

Revenue

95.3%

67.6%

45.8%

40.7%

43.4%

46.8%

Earnings

(18%)

(19.4%)

(9.8%)

46.9%

53.4%

66.5%

All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

One Fool says:
This should be the last quarterly report we get from a standalone aQuantive, as mighty Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) has offered to buy the company wholesale for about $6 billion. That's assuming that a shareholder vote held on the day of this report passes, but with an 85% price premium over the share price on the day of that announcement, it's hard to see this as anything but a formality.

You might ask yourself why the Redmond behemoth went for aQuantive rather than Right Media or DoubleClick. Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , respectively, picked up those two advertising agencies recently, at much lower prices.

Well, for one thing, aQuantive's expertise isn't just in advertising -- it's also a premium site builder through its Razorfish subsidiary. Yep, the very same high-flying Razorfish of the dot-bubble era has found a comfortable home under the wings of aQuantive and its diversified financial resources. I have personal experience with implementing a Razorfish design and can affirm the company's competence with bringing complex specifications to vivid life -- though you have to make sure you know what you're asking for as with anything else.

For another, aQuantive's headquarters are in downtown Seattle, just half an hour down SR-520 from Redmond. Not only does that make it easy to hammer out the deal over golf and/or drinks, but it also creates a comfortable day-to-day business relationship. Nobody needs to relocate, and the new addition to the family has fairly easy access to Mr. Softy's top brass when needed.

So that's it, then. So long, aQuantive, it was nice to know you -- especially for Rule Breakers subscribers who reaped a 151% harvest just six months after the newsletter recommendation. Spiffy-pop goes the Razorfish!

My, what a diverse bunch of picks! aQuantive is a former Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation, Yahoo! is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection, and Microsoft goes in the Motley Fool Inside Value deep-discount bin. Find out more with a handful of free 30-day trials.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund is a Google shareholder but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure is the prognosticator of prognosticators.


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