Content is currency. CNET
Last night, the company reported a profit of $0.05 a share. It reversed a meager loss a year earlier and topped Wall Street's projections, with most analysts having been perched at the $0.03 mark. Revenue rose by 24% to hit $84.5 million.
Interactive revenue, now composing nine-tenths of the company's sales mix, rose by 30%. At first glance, that may seem to undersell the 55% spike in unique monthly visitors (now up to 115 million) and the 134% surge in page views (now up to an average of 98 million a day). However, most of that growth is due to the company's Webshots.com acquisition. Webshots is a popular photo-sharing site, but it's not as easy to monetize as the company's other content-rich sites. Organically speaking, CNET's visitors and page views grew closer to 20% over the past year before its recent acquisitions.
Things are going well at the company, with 95% of its advertisers from the first quarter having renewed and new sponsors lining up. The makers of conventional media advertising are finally taking notice of their target audiences' migration online.
CNET thus has plenty of reasons to be upbeat about its future. It sees earnings for 2005 coming in between $0.21 and $0.24 a share, a penny higher than its initial guidance. Revenue will clock in at about $350 million.
What's more, CNET holds what is now the country's eighth most popular network of sites, ahead of other heavy hitters including Disney
Nearly two-thirds of CNET's visitors are broadband users, and thanks to lower costs, the company had no problem serving up 100 million video streams this past quarter. If you were a sponsor angling for a young male audience, wouldn't you want in on the Gamespot network, given that the typical visitor spends 18 hours a week playing video games?
CNET's properties make cohesive sense when you buy into the company's vision of the Internet playing out on a variety of screens in the future, with digital television sets and spiffy wireless devices continuing to push cyberspace content out in different directions. That's why a site such as TV.com or the media-playing hub of MP3.com all fit into the company's push into territory that will only become more valuable in the future for sponsors -- and content producers.
That also may be why a story surfaces every few days about another new suitor ready to make a buyout offer for CNET. Yahoo!
I interviewed CNET CEO Shelby Bonnie last night. Though he obviously wasn't going to address the acquisitive speculation surrounding his company, he did say that the attention that online content providers have been receiving lately from potential suitors is well-earned.
The sponsors are following the users. Media companies will have little choice but to follow suit. Why? Because content is currency.
Come back on Thursday, when I will be back with more on my conversation with Bonnie.
A look at some of the interesting things taking place at CNET:
- Its Download.com music site is now streaming along.
- CNET relaunched TV.com last month after acquiring TVTome.com.
- I also interviewed CEO Shelby Bonnie earlier this year.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of CNET, but he does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story except for Disney. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.