TRENDING - LendingTree enjoys better view on higher mountain

Record Q4 and 2015 earnings from LendingTree lend some hope for a dynamic variety of loan hub quickly maturing into a force to be reckoned with

Fed regulates banks to the hilt but online shines

Some soothsayers decry the prospect of a second systemic financial meltdown after the interbank fallout in 2008, coming in the guise of the new alternative finance vehicles which proliferated precisely because of that bank crisis.

Yet it is cheering to note parts of the fledgling sector are doing rather well.

As well as crowdfunding and crowdlending, so-called challenger banks have met the needs of consumers seeking funding where the heavily-regulated banking sector remains cautious to lend.

But others have found a happy half-way house. Online loan marketplaces are a sector of note. Not lenders themselves, they offer the role of broker online, helping consumers connect with multiple lenders, banks, and credit partners who compete for business.

That way they avoid the risks of lending but manage to get borrowers to move quickly through the credit options available to them.

The record fourth quarter and annual earnings from LendingTree (NASDAQ:TREE) on Thursday lend some hope for a dynamic variety of loan hub quickly maturing into a force to be reckoned with.

Already one of the United States' top online loan marketplaces, LendingTree has only been around for 18 years. Yet it pierced a few revenue ceilings in the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015.

Not only were the gains in revenues, for example, better than analysts expected and scaled new records - the advances were numerically enormous too.

Revenue from mortgage products of $46.9mln represents an increase of 41% over fourth quarter 2014; Revenue from non-mortgage products of $31.4mln in the fourth quarter represents an increase of 193% over the fourth quarter 2014; Revenue from personal loans offering grew to $16.2mln, up 183% over fourth quarter 2014, despite seasonal headwinds.

Revenue from credit card products grew to $6.5mln, up 142% from $2.7mln in the prior quarter.

As the platform broadens away from mortgage lending business, some 40% of its revenues now come from non-mortgage business.

The company also said it repurchased $40mln-worth of shares during first quarter 2016 - and planned a further $40mln of buybacks this year.

The outlook is for revenue to be in the range of $370 - $380mln, or 46% - 49% over full-year 2015, an increase from prior guidance of $315 - $320mln, the company declared.

LendingTree shares were up 23% at $86.02.


Domino's Pizza (NYSE:DPZ) shares gained 13% to $132.97 after the chain said its quarterly profits grew by 31 percent, amid strong US sales. The company also said its same-store sales grew by 8.66%.

LendingTree (NASDAQ:TREE) shares gained by a quarter after reporting record-breaking revenues in its fiscal 2015 earnings results, with a positive outlook for 2016.

Diamond Resorts International (NYSE:DRII) shares jumped by 22% to $23.25 after the company said it will explore strategic alternatives to extract higher shareholder value.

Kohl's Corp (NYSE:KSS) shares rose 2.5% to $46.57 in spite of landing more modest than forecast full-year guidance and warning investors that sales could fall this year. The retailer forecasts earnings to range between $4.05 and $4.25 a share.


HP (NYSE:HPQ) shares slid 4.7% to $10.33 after posting a larger-than-expected revenue drop in its personal systems and printing segments. The company did, however, post third quarter earnings and revenue that were in line with expectations.

Bankrate (NYSE:RATE) shares crashed 44% to $7.10 after the personal finance information provider reported lower advertising revenue, as well as competition from tech giant Google hurt its earnings.

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