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Why Match Group Inc. Stock Got the Cold Shoulder Today

By Steve Symington – Feb 3, 2016 at 12:39PM

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The market drove shares of the online dating company down on mixed quarterly results. Here's why.

What: Shares of Match Group (MTCH) were down more than 16% as of 11:00 a.m. ET Wednesday after the recently IPO'd online dating specialist reported disappointing fourth-quarter results.

So what: Quarterly revenue rose 12% year over year (16% on a constant currency basis) to $267.6 million. That includes a 14% increase in Dating revenue to $241.5 million, driven by 30% growth in average paid member count (PMC) to more than 4.6 million globally. More specifically, PMC growth primarily related to significant growth at Tinder, as well as Match Group's Oct. 2015 acquisition of PlentyOfFish. Excluding foreign exchange and deferred revenue write-offs related to acquisitions, Dating revenue would have climbed 22% to $259.4 million. Meanwhile, average revenue per paid user (ARPPU) was $0.53 during the quarter, down 14% from $0.62 in the same year-ago period, hurt by both currencies and a shift toward lower ARPPU platforms like Tinder, PlentyOfFish, and OkCupid -- though it's worth noting these popular platforms also require lower marketing spend.

Trending toward the bottom line, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization rose 16% year over year to $99.3 million. Based on generally accepted accounting principles, net income fell 25% year over year to $35.6 million and dropped 44% on a per-share basis to $0.16. On a non-GAAP basis -- which primarily means excluding stock-based compensation -- net income fell 2% to $53.7 million and dropped 26% on a per-share basis to $0.24.

Analysts, on average, were anticipating lower adjusted net income of $0.20 per share but higher revenue of $277.5 million.

Now what: Match Group's volatility isn't helped by the fact that it only just held its IPO in Nov. 2015. But considering the market already expected Match Group's earnings to decline on a year-over-year basis as the company invests for growth, it's no surprise investors reacted so negatively to the lackluster top-line results today.

That said, Match Group may look like a bargain to some opportunistic investors as the stock trades around 12.4 times next year's expected earnings. But that seeming discount may be merited if the company can't ultimately find ways to not only achieve healthy revenue growth without the help of acquisitions but also stabilize and resume profitable growth in earnings over the long term.

Until Match Group offers evidence it can deliver on both those fronts, I'm content watching the stock from the sidelines.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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