You have to admire the juggler. Marchex
The fourth-quarter results the domain master posted yesterday weren't much to write home about. Revenue inched just 9% higher to $32.6 million. Marchex posted a small loss, after you back out a favorable accounting charge related to the buyback of some of its preferred shares.
Things will get better in 2007. The company expects revenue to climb between 13% and 17%, even though most of that growth will take place towards the latter half of the year. Adjusted operating profits, before amortization, will chime in between $35 million and $39 million for all of 2007. The bottom line will also be back-heavy. Margins will be pressured in the current quarter as the company spends to build out the Marchex that investors are expecting.
And what is that Marchex, exactly? Glad you asked. Buying into the company isn't so much about the here and now. The real driver is what the company will be able to do with its hefty collection of valuable domain names like resorts.org or debts.com.
The company's plan is solid. It plans to use its Open List site, which has information on more than 15 million businesses divided into 20,000 different categories, to populate many of its well-trafficked domains.
On paper, the plan appears flawless. Transforming a domain that was once a single landing page loaded with paid-search ads into a site worth bookmarking, with hundreds of dynamic content pages, is just good business.
Local search is big business. Why do you think that the major portals like Google
Is Marchex perfect? Of course not. The market wasn't overjoyed with the company's results. However, I'm not grading the company in this restorative state. This is still an artist looking to piece together the hundreds of thousands of tiles that make up the Marchex mosaic. Folks will still come by to admire the artwork -- Marchex drew 31 million unique visitors to its sites back in December -- but it's still far from finished.
Obviously, I can't give the company a free pass forever. As the year wears on, we'll have a clearer indication of the merits of its domain-enhancing strategies. I'll hold the company to that. Sooner or later, we all have to.
200,000 domains in the Marchex arsenal, and you still don't know where to go next? Why don't you check out:
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of the local search market but he does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.