Even in the face of headwinds related to foreign-currency fluctuations, the Tinder parent continued its domination of the online dating market and solidified its hold on younger demographics.
For the fourth quarter, Match reported revenue of $457 million, up 21% year over year, which beat analysts' consensus estimates of $448 million and the company's forecast, which topped out at $450 million. Changes in foreign currency dented revenue by about $10.75 million.
Match produced operating income of $151 million, up 18% year over year, and generated net income of $115.5 million, significantly higher than the $9 million loss in the prior-year quarter. The $175.6 million in adjusted EBITDA was a 15% year-over-year increase, and easily exceeded the high end of management's forecast at $170 million. This resulted in diluted earnings per share of $0.39, up from a loss of $0.03 per share in the year-ago quarter and edging past expectations of $0.38 per share.
The results were broad-based: Revenue in North America grew to $235 million, up 17% year over year, while international revenue jumped 28% to $210 million.
Strong underlying business
The strong financial performance reflects an underlying business that continues to shine. Match Group's average subscribers grew to 8.2 million, up 17% year over year, with increases in North America of 11% and international growth of 23%. The company continues to squeeze more money from each customer -- the average revenue per user (ARPU) increased 4% compared to the prior-year quarter.
During the quarter, Match Group completed the acquisition of competitor Hinge, which the company believes will help bolster growth. The app enjoyed strong adoption in key markets, with downloads in the U.S. up fourfold year over year, while downloads in the U.K. increased 900%.
Sparks ignite Tinder
Tinder, Match's flagship dating app, continues to steal the spotlight. Revenue from the app grew 57% year over year, driven by a higher subscriber count, which grew to 4.3 million, up 40% compared to the prior-year quarter. ARPU climbed 12% year over year, driven by subscribers who continued to opt for Tinder Gold, the app's premium tier, as well as a record number of customers who used the platform's a la carte features.
Tinder added 1.2 million subscribers in 2018. As a result, revenue nearly doubled to $805 million for the year. The ARPU at Tinder has grown about 50% since 2016, and is approaching that of its corporate parent.
What the future may hold
Match believes it's still in the early innings, as more than half of the singles in North America and Europe have never visited an online dating site. That number is even higher in other parts of the world, which account for 75% of global singles. For example, in Asia-Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, about two-thirds of singles have never tried an online dating app. Match plans to increase its advertising spending in the first half of 2019 in hopes of tapping this potential growth.
For the first quarter, Match Group is forecasting total revenue in a range of $455 million to $465 million, which would mark growth of between 11% and 14% year over year. The company is also expecting adjusted EBITDA in a range of $150 million to $155 million, up between 9% and 12% from the prior-year quarter.
The company continues to expand its reach beyond its existing age demographic with carefully orchestrated product introductions and acquisitions. The launch of Tinder U, which attracts college-age users, and the addition of Hinge, which draws the late-20s dating crowd, round out its namesake Match.com, which appeals to an older demographic. Match Group is also continuing its international expansion, by carefully introducing its dating apps and sites to countries that have not yet adopted or fully accepted online dating.
If Match Group continues at this rate, investors have much more to look forward to.