XO GROUP INC XOXO
December 05, 2014 - 12:07pm EST by
Toby24
2014 2015
Price: 15.09 EPS 0.21 0.44
Shares Out. (in M): 27 P/E 71 34
Market Cap (in $M): 405 P/FCF 0 0
Net Debt (in $M): -86 EBIT 7 17
TEV ($): 320 TEV/EBIT 46 18

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  • Underfollowed
  • Sum Of The Parts (SOTP)
  • Technology

Description

XO’s transition to a HomeAway/StubHub style fee and toll taking business model will transform earnings power. I think there is multi-bagger potential here.

 

The stock doesn’t screen cheap because numbers are obscured by near term investments and money losing, capital draining businesses that are in the process of being shut down (China, where they were burning $5mm a year for nothing, and an E-commerce business). While this idea probably won’t be appealing to the Graham disciples or deep value investors on VIC, for those interested in a truly unique compounding opportunity, you should look at this. Right now XO operates a great business selling at a fair price but the potential exists for this to become a truly fantastic business, which would make today’s price a bargain.

 

In addition to two underappreciated assets in (i) local advertising and (ii) gift registry, XO group is transforming their business model and I believe, over time, the new fee driven earnings streams will dwarf current earnings, drive the multiple, and lead to a much higher stock price. The earnings power associated with this transformation is essentially free at the current stock price and unless it’s taken out, I think five years from now XO Group could be trading at multiples of the current stock price.

 

The story is relatively unknown and underappreciated by those who do have some familiarity with the name. There is also a deep moat around this business; a moat that’s built on a network effect, an extremely valuable intangible asset in the dominant The Knot brand, and I think soon enough, substantial switching costs for users.

 

There are several other aspects that should attract investors…

 

  • It’s misunderstood. The street sees margin deterioration, a history of poor capital allocation, and an alphabet soup of businesses with no EBIT level segment reporting to know what you are getting. But dig in and you will find a durable franchise with high margins, low capital requirements, and an Ad business selling to an enormous, untapped addressable market.

  • It’s underfollowed. Only two analysts from small firms cover XO and their work demonstrates it’s not a priority. The market doesn’t recognize the potential value of the transformation taking place.

  • It’s maligned. Old management threw away dollars at projects that didn’t pan out but new management, with tech expertise, has already made substantial progress transforming the monetization of the unique asset they own (8/10 brides use The Knot) and these initiatives will afford them substantial pricing power, the true test of a franchise.

 

Summary SOTP

I think the local Ad business will have a vendor count of roughly 27k by the end of next year and ARPV will reach roughly $2,780. This leads to earnings power on a revenue basis of roughly $75mm and EBITDA of ~$15mm. I think this earnings stream is worth 8-10x or $120 to $150mm.

 

I think the gift registry business is also underappreciated by the street. Try googling someone’s name and “wedding registry” and the first link that comes up is almost always owned by XO. They have a dominant SEO position because 8/10 brides use The Knot and they know and can aggregate nearly everyone’s online registries via a patent, so rarely if ever is their link in the search results not the link someone is looking for. When you click on that link and buy the couple a gift, XO gets paid. Some important numbers from TheKnot.com’s 2013 Wedding Survey…(http://birchbarndesigns.com/the-wedding-registry-dare-to-defy-or-are-guests-married-to-the-list/)

 

  • Avg. of 2.2mm weddings per year

  • Avg. guest count of 138

  • Avg. gift costs $108 dollars

 

Do the math and the figures above suggest the market for gifts is about $32 billion dollars annually but XO management reports in their 10K that they estimate it’s about $10 billion. I imagine it’s somewhere in between.

 

XO takes maybe 1-3% of the sale and this year they will earn about $10mm in revenue in the Registry business, which represents about $300mm to $1B of gift giving. So right now they are a mere 1-3% of the gift giving market according to the market statistics and only 3-10% according to their own market estimate. But, nobody brings gifts to weddings anymore. Gift giving is going online and the growth in registry proves it (up 27% in 2013 and will be up about 23% this year). This business is an incredibly valuable asset and I think it could easily triple in size. I think it’s worth at least 12-15x EBITDA or $104 to $130mm. There is essentially nobody who can effectively compete with them here.

 

They also have a publishing business that I value at about 1x 2015 sales or roughly $28mm, and a National Advertising business I estimate is worth about 6x 2015 EBITDA or about $33mm.

 

Add it all up and you get an EV of ~$285 to $340mm and a target stock price of ~$14 to $16 vs. the current price of $14.45.

 

So what is the appeal? Well, this doesn’t include an earnings stream in development that I estimate could easily generate another $36mm in EBITDA and one day as much as $100mm. Importantly, this earnings stream will come from fees generated by connecting brides with vendors for booking appointments and hiring them. It’s a capital light, high margin earnings stream that will be nearly impossible for vendors to avoid as XO is THE dominant wedding website.

 

XO will become a middleman like HomeAway/StubHub but instead of connecting renters with homeowners or ticket holders with event goers, they will connect brides with vendors and take a cut. The only difference is there won’t be an AirBnB, local real estate agent, or any other entity that can compete at a similar level. XO will own the market because they have the traffic. I think this earnings stream could be worth 12-15x EBITDA and maybe $16 to $30 per share in the next three to five years. I think the stock is an easy double and could be a multi-bagger if they execute well.

 

So why does the opportunity exist? I think this opportunity exists for the following reasons:

 

  1. A lack of EBIT level segment reporting disguises the real earnings power of the business and the substantial value of the Gift Registry business.

  2. A history of poor capital allocation decisions has frustrated investors and disguised true earnings power, hiding the underlying profitability of the major earning streams of (i) advertising & (ii) gift registry

  3. It’s a small-cap stock with limited trading volume

  4. The sell-side coverage is weak to say the least. B. Riley and Stifel are the only shops who cover it but neither pays much attention and frankly, the Stifel model might as well be on a different company.

 

XO Group was last written up on VIC by Andreas947 in October 2012. See that write-up for background. Be aware my thesis is entirely different as the story has changed.

 

 

Background

XO was founded in the mid 90’s and started out operating on AOL. They launched the website TheKnot.com in ’97, started a publishing business and ended up buying up some media assets and other assets including a business that would become their e-commerce operation where they sold everything from napkins to ring pillows. In 2006 they acquired WeddingChannel.com, the operator of the then leading wedding registry website and what eventually morphed into a yelp for wedding vendors. More recently they have entered the newlywed market and baby market but in my mind these assets aren’t important to the story so I won’t say much about them. They also spent about $20-25mm bucks over the past four or so years trying to start an equivalent of TheKnot.com in China called Ijie. This was a shame and a money-pit. With no saleable assets, they are shutting this down with nothing to show for the investment.

 

Up until March 2014 the company was run by co-founder David Liu and while mistakes were certainly made, he did build the company from nothing and to his credit he stepped aside in March 2014 in appreciation of a likely future that required a more tech savvy CEO. He handed the reins to Michael Steib, an impressive young executive who ran the E-comm division of Vente-Privee, a French e-comm company that pioneered the model of online flash sales. Prior to that Michael was GM of Strategic Ventures at NBC Universal where he led the creation of new digital businesses, including a marketplace for digital video syndication. I believe Michael is the perfect man for the job of modernizing XO and intelligently monetizing their dominant position in the wedding market.

 

In addition to Michael, the company also upgraded the CFO position by hiring Gillian Munson in November of 2013. I say upgrade because I think the previous CFO, John Mueller, did not appreciate their position or grasp the potential for generating returns. The opportunity to take fees on payments brides make to vendors for their services, (or for booking appointments), absolutely dwarfs the current earnings power of the business.

 

Mueller once told me all investors should focus on is the local advertising business and the metrics that go along with it; ARPU, churn, net-adds, etc. I think this revealed an unfortunate misunderstanding of the company’s potential and thankfully, he is gone. Gillian, on the other hand, not only gets it, but she has been an integral part of designing their strategy to grow future earnings and I think shareholders are lucky to have her as her background makes her a perfect fit. Gillian has sell-side experience as an analyst at Morgan Stanley covering tech and more recently was an MD at Allen & Co where she focused on investing and outreach with early stage tech-oriented companies.

 

So, let’s get into the numbers and the opportunity in a bit more detail.

 

 

Segments

 

First, the company operates the following segments:

 

  1. Advertising (local & national): 66% of revenue and 73% of gross profit

  2. Merchandise/E-comm: 3% of revenue and 1% of gross profit

  3. Registry: 8% of revenue and 9% of gross profit

  4. Publishing: 23% of revenue and 17% of gross profit

 

Quick thoughts on each of these…

 

  1. On the local side, the advertising business is a huge opportunity that I expect will begin to show rapid growth, and I’ll explain why.

  2. The merchandise business has been a disaster and is likely losing money. Fortunately management recently announced they are exiting this business.

  3. The Registry business is like owning rights to the entire catalogue of songs by The Beatles. It’s an incredible asset and I think the earnings here could account for over half of their current EBITDA.

  4. The publishing business is, well, a publishing business. It helps build the brand, contributes a little to the bottom-line, and pollutes coffee tables.

 

So, within this soup of segments, two are extremely valuable (advertising & gift registry), one is a mediocre brand building business that probably isn’t worth all that much (publishing), and the last is probably a capital drain but it’s going away (e-comm).

 

I think the Advertising, Registry and Publishing businesses together are worth the current market cap. Investors pay full-price for these businesses but get a free option on the opportunity for XO to insert themselves between brides and vendors and take a toll on transactions/bookings; a business model that could make XO phenomenally profitable and make the stock a homerun.

 

I take each segment one at a time. Let’s start with advertising…

 

 

Advertising

Advertising is comprised of two pieces:

 

  1. National Advertising: this will earn about $30mm in revenue this year, or 21% of total revenue. It grows at about a GDP rate and customers include the P&Gs of the world who pay to advertise their products on XO’s webpages.

  2. Local Advertising: This will earn over $60mm in revenue this year or 45% of total revenue. Customers include wedding photographers, florists, calligraphers, venues, etc., and I expect this will grow rapidly for years to come. This is where the value in advertising is.

 

Local Advertising

In Local Ad, XO pays a sales force to call local wedding vendors and convince them to shell out $2,500 to get featured placement on their inventory of webpages. This inventory is highly localized so they have a lot of slots they can sell. For example, try googling “The Knot, Austin” and you will be taken to their Austin wedding website where you will be presented with listings for all sorts of wedding vendors solely in Austin Texas. You can try the same for markets like Connecticut, or more local markets like Long Island, NY. Brides go to XO for many reasons (articles and other helpful content on planning weddings, inspirational photos, tools to budget and plan, etc.) but a big one is looking for vendors on these web pages.

 

Next to Registry, this business is the heart of the company. The more brides that visit the site (traffic) and post vendor reviews (content), the easier it is for the sales force to pitch new local vendors and get them to sign up, which in turn attracts more brides, who end up posting more reviews, which makes the site all the more useful to future brides. It’s a true network effect that has allowed them to build an incredibly valuable brand. Together, this is the reason 8/10 brides have used The Knot for years and the reason XO is so insulated from competitive threats.

 

When brides used to search for vendors on the site, the vendors they used to see in the results field were XO’s customers, folks who had paid for placement, but this recently changed. Through their ownership of WeddingChannel.com (now shut down, traffic is re-rerouted to TheKnot.com), XO has added tens of thousands of unpaid listings to the end of the featured listings list. These unpaid listings are folks that brides and grooms have posted reviews on at WeddingChannel.com (basically a former yelp.com but with reviews of wedding vendors) and XO has merged this content onto TheKnot.com. The idea is these vendors are going to start getting traffic generated by TheKnot.com and it will make it easier for XO sales reps to convert them to customers; “Hi Joe Photographer, we sent you 200 visitors last month and have the data to prove it. Want to sign up with us? If not, maybe we move you down the list or drop you from our listings.”

 

Vendors pay the Knot for placement because that’s where the brides are. Again, 8/10 brides come into contact with The Knot while planning their wedding, whether that is buying a magazine or creating a username and password at the site. Brides create a username and password at TheKnot.com because in addition to providing a repository of vendors, many of which are reviewed by other couples, they find useful content on planning their wedding (articles, advice, etc.), tools to help them plan (guest list manager, budget tools, tools to build wedding websites, etc.) and inspirational ideas, including pictures of real weddings.

 

It’s important to understand how underpenetrated they are here and why this is going to change.

 

Market size & XO’s penetration

 

  • When XO came public, they estimated there were over 300,000 vendors who were potential customers. In a recent presentation they reiterated this estimate.

  • Brides and grooms have posted reviews on over 180,000 vendors on XO’s website WeddingChannel.com (reviews being merged with and made available on TheKnot.com)

  • XO only has 24,304 vendors paying them to list on their website.

 

So, XO has penetrated about 13.5% of the market that has been reviewed by their customers on their own website and a mere 8% of the market they estimate exists. This business could easily triple.

 

One reason penetration is so low is because customers weren’t receiving the necessary performance attribution statistics to prove the value of the product. A bride might go on the website, find a dress shop she likes and then pick up the phone and call the shop to schedule a fitting. Unless the associate at the dress shop asked her how she heard about them, there wasn’t a trail linking XO to the vendor. From the vendor’s perspective, the value proposition was in most cases essentially unproven. This has changed. First, proving the value proposition is now a focus of the company and attribution statistics are not only monitored but are presented in an accessible and digestible format to vendors, and second, smartphones are changing everything.

 

Regarding item #1, the company introduced a vendor dashboard a couple years ago to track impressions, page views, etc., but more recently the dashboard has been updated. It is now more user friendly, contains more analytics, and provides more clearly defined attribution statistics around lead generation, page views, etc., so vendors can easily understand the value proposition.

 

Regarding item #2, the growth of mobile has allowed XO to introduce a number of apps whereby brides can book appointments and call vendors directly through the XO app on their mobile phones. This provides XO with a few things: (i) enhanced attribution statistics they can show vendors to prove the value they are offering, (ii) real-time insights into wedding trends (dresses, photographers, venues, etc.), and (iii) it gives them the ability to mine this data to improve the user experience and potentially increase engagement, information they can use to leverage the national advertising side of the business.

 

Proof this is working is beginning to show up in the numbers. Vendor churn is declining rapidly and was down 22% yoy this past quarter. This is even more impressive when you consider the company calculates churn by taking a four quarter trailing average. I estimate that means churn was actually down about 30% yoy this past quarter.

 

The benefit of providing helpful attribution statistics to vendors is not only lower churn but an ability to increase pricing. XO Group has perpetually underpriced their ad slots because (i) they couldn’t prove the value to vendors and (ii) they simply mismanaged the asset. The old CEO, David Liu, once told me he had a waiting list of vendors who wanted to pay for premium placement Ad slots. David should have raised prices.

 

I think a pricing system designed like a marketplace makes more sense and the new CEO Michael Steib has indicated this is something they could pursue, and it’s also in-line with his experience. From his bio, “At NBC Universal, he led the creation of new digital businesses, including a marketplace for digital video syndication, and received the GE Imagination Breakthrough award for the launch of NBC Weather Plus.” Call him and talk to him about this. It’s an interesting opportunity.

 

Optimizing the pricing scheme is low hanging fruit (and progress is already being made), but the bottom-line is now they are proving the value to vendors and I expect churn will keep falling, pricing will go up, and the vendor count, i.e. penetration, will increase. Also, the increase in penetration should ramp rapidly as vendors who aren’t customers get called on by XO sales reps who explain how much traffic XO is sending them.

 

Below is a table with vendor count, ARPV, churn, and my estimate of the quarterly change in churn based on the four quarter trailing avg. calculation the company uses to report churn. Notice the rapid yoy improvements in vendor count, ARPV, and churn

 

Period / Vendor count / ARPV / Churn / Qtrly change in churn (improvement)/increase

4Q 2011 / 20,900 / $2,300 / 29.1% / -12.6%

1Q 2012 / 21,500 / $2,300 / 29.3% / -5.7%

2Q 2012 / 21,800 / $2,300 / 29.7% / 0.0%

3Q 2012 / 22,100 / $2,300 / 29.8% / 3.4%

4Q 2012 / 22,100 / $2,400 / 30.2% / 3.0%

1Q 2013 / 22,555 / $2,379 / 29.8% / -3.0%

2Q 2013 / 22,600 / $2,400 / 29.5% / -5.0%

3Q 2013 / 22,600 / $2,400 / 29.4% / -1.0%

4Q 2013 / 22,755 / $2,474 / 27.9% / -19%

1Q 2013 / 23,064 / $2,497 / 27.0% / -14%

2Q 2014 / 23,682 / $2,516 / 25.2% / -26%

3Q 2014 / 24,304 / $2,517 / 22.8% / -30%

 

And here are the yoy percentage changes in vendor count and ARPV over the past four quarters. Notice the ramp taking place…

 

Period / yoy % chg in vendor count / yoy % chg in ARPV

4Q 2013 / 3% / 3%

1Q 2014 / 2% / 5%

2Q 2014 / 5% / 5%

3Q 2014 / 8% / 5%

 

The growth potential here is enormous and I think XO is on the cusp of rapidly improving penetration. I think they can grow the vendor count by 10% next year and grow ARPV in the high single digits, maybe 7-8% as the value proposition becomes more clearly defined and they wrap incremental analytical tools into the dashboard. As vendors learn to appreciate the value of their service, these estimates could prove much too low. Taking a conservative approach and using these estimates, I think by 2015 they will have a local vendor base that could support nearly $75mm in annual revenue and $90mm in annual revenue by 2016.

 

Potential annualized revenue by year…

 

2014: ~$64mm = 24,575 vendors (+8% yoy) * $2,598 ARPV (+5% yoy)

2015: ~$75mm (+18% yoy) = 27,032 vendors (+10% yoy) * $2,780 ARPV (+7% yoy)

2016: ~$88mm (+18% yoy) = 29,735 vendors (+10% yoy) * $2,974 ARPV (+7% yoy)

 

Management doesn’t provide EBIT level margins so I’ve run some sensitivities on allocating Advertising related COGS and the operating expenses using revenue mix as a guide but adjusting for registry commanding a very low proportion (operating costs include stock comp, which I believe is a true expense), and I wind up with EBITDA margins of ~20% for this business. Margins could be a bit higher or lower, but I think 20% is a reasonable estimate (I allocate more operating costs than strictly implied by revenue mix b/c I assume operating costs to run registry are not proportional to the revenue it generates. I believe they are minimal).

 

On a base of customers that could support revenue of $75mm by year end 2015, a 20% margin implies earnings power of $15mm. Considering the runway for growth, I think this is worth at least 8x EBITDA but 10x isn’t unreasonable. That’s how I arrive at my value of $120 to $150mm.

 

I estimate the National Advertising business produces similar margins and is worth maybe 6x EBITDA (not much growth available here). Assuming 4% top-line growth next year, in-line with recent growth rates for this business, I think the National Ad business will produce about $29mm in revenue and $6.7mm in EBITDA in 2015 and is worth about $33mm.

 

Next up is Registry...

 

 

Registry

The Registry business is a hidden gem and they are protected from competition through a patent. What’s patented is their registry aggregation service, which offers couples and their guests one place to view all their gift registries via a registry system that searches approximately 4.1mm registries from all sorts of retailers. This fact, along with their SEO strength due to the traffic generated at TheKnot.com and success rate of their registry link, solidifies their position at the top of search results.

 

I think this asset is incredibly valuable yet a lack of EBIT level segment reporting disguises the profitability of this business and I think it’s overlooked by the street. After numerous conversations with management, it’s clear the expense associated with operating this business is minimal and I estimate the EBITDA margins are nearly 90%.

 

It’s also a rapidly growing segment that should produce double digit growth for years to come. Per the analysis in the beginning of the write-up, I estimate penetration is as low as 1% and as high as 10% of overall gift giving. But even if it’s 10% of the current market, I think this business could easily triple.

 

Registry grew 27% last year and should be up about 23% this year. Gift giving is going online. Nearly every couple has a website these days with links to their registries. It’s the new normal and as adoption increases, Registry will spew cash flow. I estimate the business will produce $9.7mm in revenue and gross profit (they report a 100% gross profit margin) and ~$8.7mm of EBITDA this year. Considering the caliber of business and growth potential, I think 12-15x is fair and estimate this is worth $104 to $130mm.

 

Then there is publishing…

 

 

Publishing

The publishing business has done astonishingly well considering the performance of most other publishers but a major benefit has been their competitors closing up shop or reducing the frequency of publications, which has allowed The Knot to take share. Below are yoy revenue growth rates in publishing going back to 2010.

 

2010: +22% yoy

2011: +15% yoy

2012: +12% yoy

2013: +3% yoy

2014 Est: +9% yoy

 

Outside of increased distribution in existing markets this business has grown by adding pages to their magazines and adding new markets. For example, they have a The Knot Texas magazine now. I’m not sure how much growth is left here but it’s an interesting little brand building business and I estimate it operates around break-even or slightly better, so I value it a 1x sales or roughly $28mm.

 

And that brings us to the future of XO, but first, here is the valuation for just these businesses…

 

 

Adding it all up…

 

Low estimate

Local Ad: 8x $14.9mm in EBITDA = $120mm

National Ad: 6x $5.5mm in EBITDA = $33mm

Registry: 12x $8.7mm in EBITDA = $104mm

Publishing: 1x $28mm in sales = $28mm

 

Total = $285mm EV

Add net cash of $85mm = $370mm target market cap

Target stock price = $13.78 stock price on 26.9mm shares outstanding

 

High Estimate

Local Ad: 10x $14.9mm in EBITDA = ~$150mm

National Ad: 6x $5.5mm in EBITDA = $33mm

Registry: 15x $8.7mm in EBITDA = $130mm

Publishing: 1x $28mm in sales = $28mm

 

Total = ~$340mm EV

Add net cash of $85mm = $426mm target market cap

Target stock price = $15.86 on 26.9mm shares outstanding

 

One item worth noting is if you play with the allocation of expenses you can arrive at higher or lower price targets, but I think my allocation is reasonable. Now to the upside optionality…

 

 

Connecting Couples and Vendors

 

  • The average wedding cost about $30k in the U.S. in 2013 and there are about 2 to 2.5mm weddings per year, so maybe a $60B market at the low-end. 

  • Most of the dollars spent are on vendors (venue, photographer, florists, etc.) and The Knot is THE destination to learn about vendors. 

  • With 8/10 brides using The Knot, XO is exposed to maybe $48B of the market. If they were to capture 10% of the market, say $4.8B of the spending, at a 3% commission they’d be taking in $144mm/year in revenue. That compares to what they might do in revenue this year of ~ $140mm…

 

HomeAway will earn 25% EBITDA margins this year. I see no reason why XO can’t achieve this level of profitability and doing so would provide an additional $36mm of annualized EBITDA within the next couple of years. Penetrate 20% of the market and they could see revenue of nearly $300mm and annualized EBITDA of over $70mm.

 

Importantly, this earnings stream is capital light and as the near only game in town, I think XO will have an unusually powerful position in the wedding market. I think this earnings stream is worth 12-15x EBITDA or one day $430 to $864mm. That is the equivalent of as much as $16 to $32 per share three, four, maybe five years down the road.

 

 

Another Free Option

XO provides a host of interactive tools to brides that are completely free. Wedding planning tools, checklists, budgeters, guest list managers, calendars, reminder services, scrapbooks to save ides, favorite dresses, articles, photos, vendors, and more. The list of helpful tools is long. I think XO could easily gate part of the website, creating free and premium segments of the site. Premium members would have access to these interactive tools whereas unpaid members might only have access to things like checklists and inspirational content. By doing this, XO would create switching costs and for those of you who are believers in Cialdini like strategies to exploit biases, extracting payment for services could create a choice-supportive bias and lead to an increase in word-of-mouth promotion by users, enhancing the brand position even more.

 

New management isn’t opposed to this idea and I think we could see something develop here in the next year or two which would just make the moat even stronger in my opinion.

 

XO comes into contact with about 1.8mm brides each year, (80% of 2.2mm weddings). If XO were to achieve 10% penetration and charge these brides maybe $25 for access to the premium content, we could see incremental revenue of $44mm at a margin that is probably extremely attractive as all of this should fall to the bottom-line. This is pure speculation but at maybe 25%, this could lead to incremental EBITDA of $11mm and that is likely much too low a margin estimate. Regardless, at 10x this earnings stream could be worth well over $100mm or roughly another $4/share. The point is, there is lots of potential and opportunity to extract value here.

 

 

Takeaways

 

I think the stock is easily worth $14-16 on current earnings. This is hard to see because the e-comm business and $5mm a year they were spending in China, money that ran through the P&L, corrupt the historical margin picture for investors. To understand the value, you need to dig in and do some work. Also, the local ad and registry business have long-term tailwinds for growth. The underlying business is strong. E-comm and China disguised the earnings and the street has ignored the potential.

 

I think the development of their toll taking HomeAway/StubHub style business of connecting brides to vendors could extract enormous value, perhaps another $16/share and maybe as much as $30 or more in time. Read the transcripts and look at the latest investor presentation. The company is being transformed and the profitability and earnings power of the business model will drastically improve.

 

Creating a premium offering could also add substantial value. Management is open to any and all ideas to optimally monetize the asset they control in TheKnot.com. The traffic is substantial, recurring, and they dominate their competition. There is a lot of potential value to unlock. I’m not sure exactly what gating the site would add, but I think it could be a very significant earnings stream.

 

 

Near-term

Extracting payment for connecting brides to vendors will take time, as will gating the website if they end up pursuing such an initiative, but I think tapping the value of this asset is an inevitable outcome it’s just a question of when they do it and how much they extract. Management is committed to a path of optimizing monetization of their traffic and position in the market and I think their initiatives will transform the earnings power of the business.

 

In the near-term, profitability will continue to be masked due to costs associated with exiting e-comm and China but that is near-term. Long-term, I think there is substantial value here. The numbers and analysis I’ve provided on earnings streams that don’t currently exist are more of an exercise to demonstrate the potential than to be precisely accurate. I don’t know exactly how much these businesses will contribute, but I think it’s fairly clear the contributions will be substantial and that the price of the stock today is far too low.

 

I do not hold a position with the issuer such as employment, directorship, or consultancy.
I and/or others I advise hold a material investment in the issuer's securities.

Catalyst

  • Exiting E-comm and China
  • Articulating 2015 margin targets and/or reiterating timeline around long-term goals of double-digit revenue growth and 20% EBITDA margins (CFO says they expect to be making progress toward these goals by mid-2015)
  • Reporting earnings from new earnings streams associated with connecting brides with vendors
  • I also think they could be acquired
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