Flat is rarely a good thing at weddings. You want veils to be wavy, not flat. You want best-man toasts to be punchy, not flat. You want the "Just Married" limo to roll away on tires that are fully inflated, not flat.

So why should you be excited to see flat earnings-per-share growth at matrimonial resources hub The Knot (NASDAQ:KNOT)? Yes, earning $0.15 per diluted share in its latest quarter is a carbon copy of the $0.15 per share it earned a year earlier. However, there is more to that number than meets the eye.

Let's start at the top. Net revenues surged 61% higher to $28.5 million. It's a good start, with gains fueled by a 65% boost in national online advertising and the incremental glow of the bridal registry businesses that are possible after September's acquisition of WeddingChannel.com.

Pre-tax profits nearly doubled to $8.1 million. Margins expanded and there was a huge uptick in interest income after the company completed a secondary offering. Then came the tax bite. The company still had tax loss carryforward a year ago, keeping Uncle Sam's nibble gummy. It now has to shoulder the full taxable burden.

As a result of paying 41% of its pre-tax profits in income taxes, net income clocked in just 22% higher than it did a year earlier. Divide that by a 27% uptick in fully diluted shares outstanding (mostly related to the secondary offering in conjunction with the Wedding Channel purchase), and you take a flamboyant full-circle trip to the same $0.15 per share it earned in the same period of 2006.

Analysts knew about these hurdles. They were looking for the company to earn just $0.10 on a 46% top-line surge. It's a refreshing change to where Wall Street was parked three months ago. The company missed profit targets during the first quarter of 2007. It's the first time that The Knot had disappointed the market, and it's all too easy to fall into the trap again.

It was a productive quarter for the company. It signed an exclusive online bridal registry deal with Macy's (NYSE:M) back in April. It also launched TheNestBaby.com, a parenting site that extends its reach even further into the courtship cycle.

Along came baby
The Knot isn't the only company angling for young mothers. Sites like CNET's (NASDAQ:CNET) UrbanBaby, Martha Stewart (NYSE:MSO), and NBC Universal's iVillage have been there for years. The Knot also became a player when it acquired local reference hub LilaGuide.com last summer.

Despite the crowded marketplace, The Knot's expansion strategy makes sense. The company's namesake site attracts 3.2 million unique monthly visitors. It never made sense to let that traffic float away after vows have been exchanged. That is where TheNest.com came in, a site for newlyweds. The company is also angling for customers earlier in the hookup process, by launching or acquiring online dating sites and prom season specialist PromSpot.com.

But these acquisitions are not diluting The Knot as a brand, because the company is running its other generational lifestyle sites under different names. It's the perfect strategy, even if these incremental sites aren't catering to the lucrative wedding planning industry.

Yes, nothing beats caterers, wedding singers, and banquet hall operators paying for a presence on The Knot's localized guides. Lead generators are everywhere, but the truly successful ones like The Knot, Travelzoo (NASDAQ:TZOO), and Bankrate (NASDAQ:RATE) have established their brands as relevant through word-of-mouth testimonials and content syndication. It sure beats having to pay through the nose for traffic. That's a cutthroat scene where rivals try to outbid each other on search engine keywords to the point where once-promising earnings turn into flat profits.

That's the bad kind of flat. The flat veil. The flat reception toast. The flat limo tire. The Knot's earnings per share may have clocked in flat, but there is nothing flat about this fast-growing company.

The Knot, Bankrate, and CNET have been recommended to Motley Fool Rule Breakers subscribers. If you want to know what makes these stocks special, maybe it's time for you to take the next step in your own courtship cycle with growth stocks. Here's a freebie. Sign up now and get 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. He 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, and it's got threaded cans that clang down the street on wedding days.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.