Points.com (TSX: PTS)(OTC BB: PTSEF) is certainly getting some traction. This week, the company entered a deal with Amazon.com
Points.com has a fairly simple business: letting users manage, earn, buy, and swap their miles and points from reward programs. So far, the company has more than 45 reward programs under contract, including AMR
That's novel enough -- but is Points.com stock worth considering? Prospective investors should remember that it's traded on the Pink Sheets, which is a fairly illiquid market. I generally don't like to go near stocks or companies of this sort; they're often highly volatile and pack plenty of uncertainty regarding their future prospects. Nonetheless, the Rule Breakers among you should have an appetite for analyzing tiny companies like this one in their earliest growth stages. In the second quarter, Points.com's revenues were $2.55 million, a 26% increase from the same period in 2004 -- but the company posted a net loss of $1.97 million.
Points.com generates revenues by collecting a commission on each transaction. Its technology isn't necessarily difficult to duplicate; indeed, the company has several competitors. In response, Points.com is aggressively attempting to build its brand, user base, and partnership agreements.
To that end, the company recently raised $15.8 million in a private placement. Interestingly, InterActiveCorp
What's more, it appears that online users are starting to join merchants in warming up to reward programs. "Traditionally, merchants thought the participation in these incentive or loyalty programs hurt their brand image, but they're now seeing the value," said Harry Tsao, the co-founder of Smarter.com, which provides comparison shopping and online reward programs.
In my own opinion, users who sign on to Points.com are more likely to stay than switch to a competitor, so long as the service is good and there are plenty of options in terms of merchants and points programs. Transferring points from one service to another represents can be enough of a hassle to encourage users to stay put.
Still, this is a company in the very earliest stages of proving its business model, trading on an illiquid market. New competitors may well emerge over time, eroding the company's available customer base and depressing the fees it garners per transaction. If the company can continue its growth and upgrade to another exchange, improving its access to capital and liquidity of markets, it might be able to build the sort of critical mass to make it the top choice among "points vendors."
In the meantime, though, the company will need to earn some more points with investors.
Amazon.com and eBay are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks.
Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article.