Shares of our Buzz Stock of the Day — Tree.com, Inc. (Nasdaq: TREE) closed almost 40 percent higher todaya fter reporting positive earnings for the first quarter of 2009.
The Charlotte-based company, is the parent of several brands and businesses in the financial services and real estate industries including LendingTree(r), LendingTree Loans(sm), GetSmart(r), Home Loan Center, RealEstate.com, iNest(r), and RealEstate.com, REALTORS(r).
Tree.com, Inc. today reported Q1 earnings of $0.32 per diluted share on revenue of $57.3 million, compared with a net loss of $1.05 per share on revenue of $70.2 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue for Q1 2009 increased 19 percent sequentially. The company generated EBITDA of nearly $8 million in Q1.
“While we are pleased to deliver positive earnings per share and sequential quarterly improvements in revenue, we continue to benefit from a declining mortgage rate environment,” said Tree.com’ CFO, Matt Packey. “We had concerns towards the middle of Q109, as we saw rates start to tick back up, that we would have to begin spending more heavily on marketing again. However, based on what we have experienced throughout April 2009, and in seeing various market forecasts for continued low rates through the end of 2009, we do not anticipate having to significantly increase our marketing expense to drive additional volume.”
As of March 31, 2009, Tree.com had $81.4 million in cash and cash equivalents compared to $73.6 million as of December 31, 2008. The key drivers behind the increase in cash included $7.9 in EBITDA that was generated, $1.9 million of cash received from the sale of restricted common stock, $3.6 million of positive net working capital changes and a $0.2 million increase related to a decrease in restricted cash. These increases were partially offset by a $4.2 million net cash outflow related to timing of the origination and sale of loans and warehouse line activity, as well as $1.6 million outflow for acquisition payments and capital expenditures in the quarter.