Don't let the word bank in Bankrate (NASDAQ:RATE) kid you. Don't let the seemingly awkward model of generating leads for disappearing financial institutions bring you down, either. There is more to Bankrate than meets the eye, but why make things any more complicated when a financial picture can tell a thousand words?

Bankrate was one of Wall Street's speedsters on Friday. The stock price rose 23% after the company posted another quarter of monster results. If you thought the 72% increase in second-quarter revenue turned heads three months ago, the third-quarter increase of 77% had the market going in circles, like Linda Blair's possessed character in The Exorcist.

Earnings before stock-based compensation clocked in at $0.43 a share, ahead of both the $0.39 a share Bankrate generated a year ago and the $0.32 a share that Mr. Market was looking for.

If you really want to be thrown for a loop, consider that the results were actually sandbagged by the company's old-school print publishing and licensing revenue, which fell by 35% during the quarter. Online revenue, which now accounts for a thick 95% of the revenue mix pie, shot up 94% during the three months.

There are no tricks and mirrors here. Sure, Bankrate is a serial acquirer. Recent buys include Bankaholic.com and CreditCardGuide, but this growth is mostly organic. As bad as things may appear to be in financial services, Bankrate is delivering quantifiable leads to institutions at a time when interest rates are all over the map.

Providing online leads isn't necessarily a meal ticket. For every Bankrate or Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) that is rocking, you have companies like LendingTree parent Tree.com (NASDAQ:TREE) delivering leads to lenders, HouseValues (NASDAQ:SOLD) delivering leads to real estate agents, and insurance-vetting hub InsWeb (NASDAQ:INSW) all trading for less than $3 a stub.

Investors should keep Friday's optimism in check, though. Despite ringing up $44 million in revenue -- comfortably ahead of the $41.8 million in consensus expectations -- Bankrate is sticking to its summer guidance of $164 million to $169 million in revenue for all of 2008. Bankrate is hopefully erring on the conservative side, but until we know for sure, investors are pricing in favorable momentum after Thursday night's earnings report that may not be there during the current quarter.

That is, investors who bank on the past may be misreading the present. 

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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 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.