I've always liked the Bankrate.com
Well, the company recently launched its revamped Web site. It's much easier to navigate and has two new content channels (debt management and college finance). And, yes, it's better optimized to generate revenues from partners.
Since Thomas Evans became CEO of Bankrate in June 2004, he's wasted little time in making big changes. Then again, he has a great track record in the corporate world, with stints at Official Payments, U.S. News & World Report and GeoCities, which he sold to Yahoo!
This week, Bankrate announced its earnings report. In the first quarter, revenues were $10.4 million, up 1% from the same period a year ago. During this time, net income declined from $2.4 million to $1.9 million.
However, it will likely take some time -- perhaps in the second half of 2005 -- for those changes to make a discernable impact.
In the meantime, more changes keep coming. For instance, there is the restructuring of the sales force. In the past quarter, the company added four sales reps and established offices in San Francisco and Chicago.
Bankrate is also revamping its business model. The company is known for its rate tables for mortgages, credit cards, and so on. To generate more revenues, Bankrate is now charging lenders based on a cost-per-click basis (not a flat fee basis).
What's more, a critical part of Bankrate's new strategy involves diversifying out of its reliance on the mortgage business. Its financial advertisers have indicated their willingness to pay premium rates for leads in the college and debt management areas. Bankrate.com now has rate tables, commentary/analysis, and calculators for these channels.
While many online content providers pay for traffic -- usually through paid searches on Google
Even as Bankrate looks at acquisitions of its own, its organic traffic and new initiatives might make it an attractive candidate for a buyout. After all, if other content sites such as About.com have sold at high, why not a site like Bankrate, which has a much more cost-effective means for lead generation?
Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares in companies mentioned in this article.