Gary Lauer, CEO of online health-insurance site eHealth
In the fiscal fourth quarter, the company's revenues increased 49% to $17.4 million. Net income was $11 million, or $0.45 per share, up from $223,000, or $0.01 per share, year over year. While this looks stellar, keep in mind that the company received a $7.4 million gain from an income tax benefit. Backing out that one-time gain, the company turned in a solid $0.15 per share in earnings.
Founded in 1997, eHealth's online platform allows individuals, families, and small businesses to comparison-shop for health-insurance products. Its database includes more than 5,000 policies from more than 150 carriers, including Aetna
Since eHealth primarily earns money from commissions for selling policies, it needs to find efficient ways to acquire new customers. Thus far, it's had its best luck with paid-search ads from providers such as Google
Over the past year, these measures have helped cut the company's cost of customer acquisition from $50 to $47 per member. With $14 per month in average revenue per member, it takes just a few months for eHealth to recoup those costs.
In addition to reaping commission fees, eHealth is monetizing its website traffic with sponsorships, and it's even licensing its platform. These revenues amounted to $2.3 million in 2006, compared to $515,000 in 2005.
eHealth projects 2007 revenues of $81 million-$84 million, with cash flows from operations of $19-$21 per share. The company has little competition, major barriers to entry, recurring revenues, and a large market opportunity. For many stocks, such benefits come at a premium price, and eHealth is no exception.
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