The Tinder Inc. application is displayed on a smartphone in an arranged photograph in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Sara Hylton/Bloomberg)

Tinder Sends Match Earnings Blazing Past Estimates

(Bloomberg) -- Match Group, Inc., the parent company of some of the most popular online dating platforms, soared the most in nine months after quarterly earnings beat analysts’ estimates, boosted by new subscribers to Tinder.

Revenue jumped 36 percent to $421.2 million in the second quarter, exceeding the average forecast of $413.3 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Dallas, Texas-based company reported operating income of $150.2 million, up 81 percent from a year earlier, the company said Tuesday in a statement. Earnings were 45 cents a share, surpassing projections for 32 cents.

Tinder, the app that made "swipe right" and "swipe left" to like or delete a potential partner part of the millennial vernacular, is the "growth engine" behind Match, Chief Executive Officer Mandy Ginsberg said in a phone interview. Though the base app for Tinder is free, extra features cost money, helping boost direct revenue by 136 percent year-over-year in the quarter. The app boasts more than 3.7 million subscribers, an 81 percent increase since the second quarter of 2017. Total subscribers across Match Group’s about 45 brands totaled 7.7 million for the three months ending June 30.

Based on such momentum, Match said it’s expecting as much as $440 million in revenue in the current quarter. For the full year, Match raised the top end of its revenue range by $20 million to as much as $1.72 billion, largely driven by Tinder. The app is expected to exceed $800 million in revenue for 2018, Chief Financial Officer Gary Swidler said on a call with investors Wednesday. Tinder’s profit margins exceed 40 percent.

The shares jumped as much as 18 percent Wednesday, the biggest increase since November. They were trading up 14 percent to $44.28 at 9:50 a.m. in New York.

Match Group operates in a competitive online dating ecosystem that includes companies like Coffee Meets Bagel and Bumble, which also features a swipe-centric user interface. Facebook Inc. is the most recent entrant. The social networking giant sent Match’s shares plunging 22 percent in May when it announced plans to roll out its own online dating platform. Match Group has since recovered and is up about 24 percent this year.

"People use multiple products" to look for a partner, said Ginsberg, who took over earlier this year as CEO. "And we think we’ve got great products."

Unlike many social media platforms, Match Group isn’t ad-driven -- only about 3 percent of revenue for the period ending June 30 came from advertising, Ginsberg said. The remaining lion’s share of earnings came from direct channels, including paid subscriptions giving users access to premium features allowing them to boost their profiles or view more likely matches first.

Match rolled out Picks earlier in the summer, an add-on to the monetized Tinder Gold feature that highlights most likely matches to users. It will also introduce Tinder U, which targets the college-student demographic, in the next few weeks. "A lot of what you see are efforts and energy around how to make sure that base product is compelling, fun, engaging," Ginsberg said. "We’ve got to make sure we stay cool and exciting for people who are 18 to 22."

Match Group also added to its portfolio, which includes the dating apps Plenty of Fish and OkCupid, in the second quarter. The company in June purchased a 51 percent stake in Hinge, which markets itself as a dating alternative for individuals seeking more serious relationships. The contribution from Hinge may be "immaterial" at this point, but given that the user base has grown about 400 percent since September 2017, the platform could eventually be a "solid contributor" over time, John Blackledge, an analyst at Cowen & Co., wrote in a note before earnings were announced. Match Group plans to take up remaining shares of Hinge by the end of the year, Ginsberg said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.