The Match Group Inc. Tinder dating application is displayed in an arranged photograph taken in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S.(Photographer: Gaia Squarci/Bloomberg)

Facebook’s Foray Into the Dating Scene Looks Like No Match for Match

(Bloomberg) -- Match investors appear to have gotten over their Facebook fears.

When the social media giant announced plans in May to launch an in-app dating feature, Match Group Inc. shares fell 22 percent. That, however, appears to have been just a blip. The stock is up more than 50 percent since May 1 and has gained 81 percent for the year.

Chief Executive Officer Mandy Ginsberg, who took over the top position in January, isn’t sitting still. She hears the footsteps loud and clear and is keeping a watchful eye on Facebook’s developments.

“We’ll have to see what happens and keep an eye on it,” she said in a phone interview, noting that history has shown the tech behemoth’s market power shouldn’t be underestimated.

Facebook’s Foray Into the Dating Scene Looks Like No Match for Match

Among Match’s not-so-secret weapons is Tinder. In the company’s latest quarterly report, key metrics like increases in subscriber growth and earnings before interest and other items were driven by the swiping app.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like Tinder, it’s in a bit of a league of its own,” Ginsberg said. “It started and in a couple years into its growth, it just went global really fast.”

Match is trading up 0.7 percent to $56.94 as of 10:03 a.m. in New York, above its average estimated price target of $53. Wall Street had already begun souring on the Dallas-based company even before Facebook’s announcement. JPMorgan, Guggenheim and Wells Fargo cut their ratings to neutral from buy in February and March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The stock has 8 buys, 8 holds and one sell.

Jefferies analyst Brent Thill is among those defending Match. He upgraded the stock to buy from hold in June. He doesn’t see Facebook as a threat, at least not in the short term.

“There is no question Facebook will have some impact,” he said. However, Thill said he believes “the market is big enough to support multiple vendors.”

Perhaps Match investors should be more worried about what’s going on with Bumble, another millennial-focused dating app, said Thill.

"Look Bumble’s a great asset," said Thill. "It’s the only major platform out there that they don’t own."

Last year, Match made an offer to acquire Bumble. And then there’s a possible scenario of Bumble hooking up with Facebook. After Facebook’s May dating announcement, Bumble released a statement saying, "Our executive team has already reached out to Facebook to explore ways to collaborate."

Match is expected to report fourth quarter earnings next month.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.