There's a drought in the dowry. Wedding planning hub The Knot
I've got two market riddles for you.
How do you report a 55% surge in pre-tax profits but still wind up earning slightly less than you did a year ago?
How can net income clock in essentially flat, but still dive 28% on a per-share basis?
Don't knock your noggin for the answers -- this is an open book test. The Knot saw its pre-tax earnings climb a lot higher than its post-tax profits because it still had tax loss carry forward from last year to help offset Uncle Sam's bite.
The per-share disparity -- with The Knot earning $0.05 a share against a $0.07 per-share showing a year earlier -- is due to a 29% spike in fully diluted shares outstanding. That was partly the result of a secondary offering last summer and the acquisition of WeddingChannel.com to boost its online bridal registry business.
But we can't let The Knot off on a pair of technicalities here. Wall Street had all of these things baked into its collective model and it was still looking for a bottom-line profit of $0.08 per share. Analysts were also holding out for a 59% top-line surge. The Knot ultimately delivered net revenues of $21 million, or a 43% gain over the prior year.
The company has spoiled investors until now. Before the quarterly miss, The Knot had topped profit expectations for five consecutive quarters. Do you know how many weddings have come undone in that time? Spears and Federline. Witherspoon and Phillippe. McCartney and Mills.
It's an awkward time, as analysts that had been perpetually humbled realize that they finally went too far, like Wile E. Coyote as he laps Road Runner on a rocky cliff to find nothing but freefalling air under his feet.
The Knot is clearly growing, but not as quickly as investors would like. It also helps to have a little color behind some of the line items. It's a mixed bag, really. Operating income rose by just 20%. The gain in pre-tax profits is the result of the tripling in passive interest income. That's bad, but then bulls can counter that the lackluster operating profit was weighed down by a fivefold spike in non-cash depreciation and amortization expenses, mostly due to the WeddingChannel.com purchase.
Exchanging vows and buying vowels
The future is still bright for The Knot; it's still the brand that matters in this lucrative space. That has helped it land some top-notch partners, like its affinity credit card with American Express
Sure, there are plenty of other places in cyberspace where nervous brides can go to plan for that special day. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
However, The Knot stands alone as the one-stop shop for localized service provider guides, editorial content, and active discussion boards. The company has also broadened its wingspan by launching TheNest.com for newlyweds and acquiring a pair of online dating sites.
The company's unique position makes it a no-brainer buyout target if shares slide much lower, but the upside is there if The Knot gets back on track, donning the Road Runner suit as it goes "beep beep" and laps analysts again.
The Knot was recommended to Motley Fool Rule Breakers subscribers last year and has gone on to nearly double. You can see what all the fuss is about with a free 30-day trial subscription.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz got married years before TheKnot.com was around and he regrets that. He could have had a punctual person working the video camera that day. Rick 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.