Have you noticed how hard it is to get someone to be the banker in a game of Monopoly these days?
With troubled bankers like Washington Mutual
Well, don't tell that to Bankrate
There is no need to applaud. The reason the pros nailed Bankrate's performance is that the company hosed down expectations last month. Wall Street was looking for a profit of $0.40 a share before the company talked down its prospects for the rest of the year.
The move stung. The company's new revenue and EBITDA targets -- $164 million to $169 million and $54 million to $58 million, respectively -- were respectable advances over last year's showing. However, slashing the top-line target by $3 million and the cash flow gauge by a wider $10 million translates into margin erosion.
You don't need to cry for Bankrate. It has been able to offset weakness in display advertising through other lead-generating areas like insurance, retirement, and credit cards. As strapped as the marketing budgets may be for financial services providers, obtaining quality leads by paying for hyperlinks on the Bankrate site is still a sound value proposition for the industry.
Online lead generators aren't necessarily immune from the sectors they represent. Realtor magnet HouseValues
As a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation, it's refreshing to see Bankrate continue to grow in popularity. The site generated 148 million page views during the period, a 9% gain over last year's traffic. The healthier top-line advance shows that Bankrate is milking more monetization power out of every page it delivers. That's good stuff, though Bankrate investors will want to keep an eye on other industry trends. Banks like IndyMac folding may be a near-term catalyst for traffic to its website by alternative-seeking consumers, but if a weakening economy digs deeper into credit card companies and forces customers into withdrawal mode, Bankrate may hit a few more bumps down the road.
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Bankrate and The Knot are 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.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been known to chase yields on the Bankrate.com site from time to time. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.