A popular live-streaming platform is giving The Meet Group (MEET) new life this year. The social discovery and dating app developer isn't pinging on too many Wall Street radars, but the stock is trading 46% higher in 2018. The difference maker at The Meet Group is a video business that didn't even exist a year ago. 

Earlier this month, The Meet Group revealed that it attracted a daily average of 900,000 users in September to its nascent live-streaming offering, and on a typical day 125,000 users are broadcasting live video content. Revenue from the platform is now running at an annualized clip of $48 million, up from a $42 million pace back in August. The Meet Group wasn't generating any revenue in this niche a year ago.

Ringing up $48 million in revenue -- and growing -- wouldn't be a game changer for tech titans, but The Meet Group is a modest dating-app publisher that delivered just $123.8 million in revenue last year. It commands a market cap just north of $300 million, so this newfound and ascending popularity in live streaming is significant. 

The entrance to MeetMe headquarters.

Image source: The Meet Group.

Meet cute  

The Meet Group got its start in 2011, when social-discovery company myYearbook was acquired by the smaller yet publicly traded Latino-focused social-networking hub Quepasa. The combined company rebranded as MeetMe a year later, with the three siblings who founded myYearbook at the helm. Geoffrey Cook remains the CEO. 

The buying spree has intensified over the past two years. In late 2016, The Meet Group acquired Skout -- a global social discovery app with 80% of its users outside the U.S. -- in a $55 million cash-and-stock deal. The move increased the number of people MeetMe users can chat with by 60%. The Meet Group then bought German dating-app Devloper Lovoo early last year. 

The company has been posting brisk organic and non-organic revenue growth. It's also been profitable on an adjusted basis since 2015. We'll get a fresh financial update out of The Meet Group next week, when it reports its third-quarter results. 

Analysts are gradually starting to notice its performance. Darren Aftahi at Roth Capital boosted his price target on the shares to $6.75 earlier this month. Momentum at The Meet Group's live-streaming business leaves Aftahi believing that earlier guidance for the second half of this year is conservative. Channel checks show that advertisers have been receptive to The Meet Group, despite long-running concerns from some parental advocacy groups on the dangers of having teens make virtual connections with nearby strangers.

Aftahi's price goal suggests there's 64% of upside from current levels. He has a bullish buy rating on the stock. But investors can't take any Wall Street nod as gospel. Aftahi had a price target of $9.25 on the stock last year, when he made it a 2017 focus stock pick.

The real test will be next week's quarterly report. If the rest of the business is humming along as well as its live-streaming platform, it should be a blowout quarter, with a rosier outlook for the balance of the year. 

The Meet Group is not very well known, even among tech investors. Stringing together a few strong quarters would help bring it out of obscurity.