Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of Bankrate Inc (NYSE:RATE) were down by more than 10% in early trading on Tuesday before a modest recovery reduced that loss to 6% for the day. The market seems to have reacted poorly to Bankrate's pre-market release of its preliminary fourth-quarter earnings results.
So what: Bankrate is already under investigation for earlier financial statements, and it announced toward the end of 2014's third quarter that its earlier statements would have to be revised. Because of this ongoing effort, the company's fourth-quarter results as reported today are considered to be unaudited, and may change from today to their official filing.
The company reported $136.5 million in revenue from continuing operations, resulting in GAAP net income in the range of $8.5 million to $8.9 million, which was affected by approximately $4.1 million in legal expenses relating to several shareholder class action lawsuits over the company's inaccurate financial statements. Bankrate's adjusted EBITDA margin is expected to range between 24% ($32.8 million) and 25% ($34.1 million) for the quarter. Analysts had expected Bankrate to report $139 million in revenue, so the top-line result was disappointing, and the company's net income estimates translate to approximately $0.08 to $0.09 in GAAP EPS, which is well below the $0.21 per share Wall Street had expected.
Now what: Bankrate has been one of the market's worst stocks over the past year, and today's drop means that it's lost a third of its value since last March. While many of Bankrate's core metrics have improved year-over-year, a lack of forward guidance and an ongoing financial reporting problem put too many dark clouds over this stock. I'd watch Bankrate from the sidelines until it reaches a resolution with the SEC, and with its upset shareholders.