Sometimes, even a 58% top-line surge isn't enough to please the fickle. Financial-rate publisher Bankrate (NASDAQ:RATE) opened 5% lower this morning despite some respectable third-quarter gains. Earnings before stock-based compensation and a legal settlement rose to $0.21 a share, after a $0.16-a-share showing a year earlier. Revenue climbed 58% higher to hit $19.5 million.

The problem here is that analysts were looking for the company to earn $0.23 a share on $20.4 million in total revenue. Even if you tack on the $0.02 a share the company incurred in legal costs for the period, thus working your way up to Wall Street's bottom-line target, there is no way to compensate for coming up short on top.

Yes, Bankrate disappointed the pros, but maybe we can dig deeper into the numbers to show how the company also debunked some of the skeptics. After all, weren't some folks saying that higher borrowing rates would kill the desire for financial institutions to promote their products? Well, hyperlink revenue (where financial services providers pay to have direct links to their sites from Bankrate) rose by 58%, graphical ads shot up by 39%, and online publishing revenue climbed 41% higher.

Weren't consumers going to turn their backs on tracking interest rates? Well, the allure of refinancing may be dimmed, but one can't deny the appeal of chasing CD and money market yields as they head into the 5% and 6% range. Page views at actually shot up 17% over the past year. I'm encouraged to see revenue outpace page-view growth, as it is indicative that the Bankrate eyeballs have gotten more valuable.

Wouldn't Bankrate be a forgotten brand by now, since rock-bottom mortgages disappeared two years ago when the Fed began hiking rates? Think again. The fastest-growing segment at Bankrate is actually the old-school print publishing and licensing revenue, which has more than tripled over the past year.

Generating leads can be a tricky business. It has worked out well for companies like Bankrate and The Knot (NASDAQ:KNOT) -- both active Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations -- and IAC/InterActiveCorp.'s (NASDAQ:IACI) Lending Tree, yet it hasn't been a universal winner. Companies like InsWeb (NASDAQ:INSW), in insurance, and Autobytel (NASDAQ:ABTL), for car dealers, have been losing money in their respective specialties.

Analysts will have to temper their enthusiasm for Bankrate. They figured the company would clock in with $81 million in revenue for all of 2006, and Bankrate is now expecting to generate no more than $80 million on the top line. The stock began bouncing back after its initial swoon this morning, so maybe Wall Street is a bit more forgiving than we have been led to believe. Then again, maybe it's just the Bankrate doomsayers coming to the conclusion that Bankrate really is built to last -- and thrive -- in all interest rate environments.

Bankrate is an active recommendation in the Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service for high-octane growth stock investing. If you want to learn more, take advantage of the service's free 30-day trial. The Knot is also a Rule Breakers pick.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been known to chase yields on the site from time to time, and he's glad to see Bankrate serve as the exclusive provider of consumer rate information on He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. T he Fool has a disclosure policy.