|New thread with the new name if anyone still interested
|Presumably todays announcement indicates 'easy' dispute is over.|
|This article is for information and discussion purposes only and does not form a recommendation to invest or otherwise. The value of an investment may fall. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.
In my last piece I remarked how the stockmarket cannot be in a genuine bull phase until we see more flotations introducing fresh growth firms to lead it.
One worth watching is AIM-listed Easydate (EZD), a dating websites group where the chief finance officer has just made his first purchase of shares - 4,600 at 106p - and an institution allegedly bought in via a non-executive director selling his holding of 398,000 shares at 95p. He may have been sitting on a substantial profit from a lower level and usually such investors know that selling requires leaving something on the plate.
So is online dating a tasty morsel?
With over nine million members, Easydate floated last June via a £10 million placing at 60p and its shares more than doubled near 130p, currently about 105p which capitalises the group near £80 million. This initially looks high when Easydate is only just moving into significant profit, but when a subscription business passes the "inflection point" in cash-flow terms, it can indeed impress.
Like various successful UK growth shares, Easydate involves a retail formula with considerable "roll-out" potential and needs little or no debt. Historically, there have been some excellent performers like this, for example Carlton Communications in the 1980s where Nigel Wray reversed in his investor tipsheets; and Metal Bulletin in the 1990s with its specialist trade publications.
The radical difference with the online revolution is a big drop in publishing costs which expands margins but attracts competition. A closer comparison is with the Friends Reunited website started by a husband and wife and sold to ITV (ITV) for £175 million, later dumped for £25 million as competition intensified from other social networking sites.
In its favour, online dating is here to stay amid high UK adoption of broadband and single households - which are heading towards half the population, particularly in Scotland.
As online dating has become established, generalists such as Match.com have faced a swarm of new specialists doing well in their particular niche (Fitness Singles, Muddy Matches etc). No barriers to entry and modest start-up costs make it a risky business for investors as the market will get over-crowded. Yet this will provide scope for skilled online marketeers to launch and acquire sites, gaining share by offering subscriptions to multiple sites within a stable.
Daters increasingly check in and out of sites, quite like visiting bars, but with each subscription typically about £15-30 a month, the costs mount up. With cross marketing and multiple access subscriptions, an adept PLC has an opportunity to thrive on higher competition, under-cutting it with better value.
At some point online dating will be seen as a "me too" business with margins eroding, but that looks a way off.
Easydate merits watching because it shows signs of ability to evolve like this, underlined already by good figures. A 17 November trading update cited revenue growth at over 30% per quarter, and UK revenues up by 70% since the start of 2010 helped by acquisitions. Underlying growth of the UK market is 6-10%, with the established US market's rate of 3% being a sign of how this can consolidate. Emerging markets, however, are enjoying far higher rates.
Easydate has sensibly adopted a niche approach with concepts such as girlsdateforfree.com and maturedating.co.uk - you can find out more via www.easydategroup.com.
Marketing spend has grown at a similar rate of 30%, however, and a relatively low financial base helps to show rapid growth. The mix of acquisitions and organic growth has also helped to grow international revenues to 25% on an ongoing basis, from 13% for 2009.
So it was quite a glitch in September when Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the head of easyGroup, challenged the use of "Easy" - prompting Easydate shares into a fall, as Sir Stelios said he would "take further action to protect the Easy name".
By way of comparison, the easyJet airline pays EasyGroup a 0.25% royalty of total revenue. Easydate is reportedly negotiating with Sir Stelios and needs to get this resolved, certainly wanting to avoid a costly court case just when it is establishing its stockmarket reputation.
The "Easy" prefix can indeed make you think of Sir Stelios' brand, but I heard a lawyer arguing strongly in a BBC radio programme on this matter, an entrepreneur should not be able to claim exclusive rights to basic language. I still want to see how this gets resolved, it being a marker for management reputation.
You might expect a private opportunist to try and adopt the "Easy" prefix, but if a company is to progress to wider attention, attracting new investors, both its management and sponsors should really have checked this out.
Cenkos Securities, Easydate's broker, projects a normalised pre-tax profit of £5.3 million this year and £8.8 million in 2011, for earnings per share of 5.1p rising to 8.4p, hence a potentially attractive one-year forward multiple under 13 times if a good few years of growth are in prospect. As yet, there is no dividend.
The 22 September interims showed Easydate's end-June balance sheet quite as you would expect from a business like this: mainly intangible assets with little plant and equipment, hardly any debt and a £9.5 million lump of cash after an £8.8 million inflow from June's share issue. Total trade payables of £5.4 million initially look high relative to £2.4 million trade receivables but include £2.1 million deferred consideration on acquisitions.
In conclusion, Easydate may not prove an ultra long-term growth share for leaving in your pension, as its market ultimately becomes over-crowded, but could still perform well as a medium-term play.|
|Thanks again drw1- v interesting. The name does imply its part of the easyjet stable...(as a matter of no interest to others, I also hold Iomart shares)|
tommy ten chins
|EasyDate in Talks to End Trademark Dispute with EasyGroup
EasyDate Plc, the Edinburgh, U.K.-based Internet dating company that went public in June, is in trademark settlement negotiations with the closely held EasyGroup U.K. Ltd. of London, the Herald Scotland website reported.
In September EasyGroup chairman Stelios Haji-Ioannou complained that the dating service infringed the company's trademark. He said in a company statement that unless EasyDate quit using its brand and domain name, he would "take further action to protect the easy name.
Stelios, who prefers to be identified by his first name, settled a brand-license dispute with low-cost passenger airline EasyJet Plc in October.
In that case, the airline retains the right to the EasyJet name for as much as 50 years by paying a royalty of 0.25 percent of total revenue. As part of the settlement Stelios agreed to give up the right to appoint himself chairman of EasyJet and to end EasyGroup's representation on the airline's board.|
|Easydate in trademark talks with Stelios
Co-founders of Easydate, Max Polyakov, left and Bill Dobbie. Pic: Esme Allen
Share 0 comments 18 Nov 2010
Bill Dobbie, founder of Edinburgh-based online dating company Easydate, said talks are ongoing with easyGroup chief Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou over the company's name.
Sir Stelios took the gloss off a stellar stock market start for Easydate by claiming in September it had infringed the copyright on the "easy" name which he uses for businesses including easyCar and licences to easyJet.
Mr Dobbie told The Herald: "Thankfully we have got discussions going."
He declined to predict how long it might take to clear the impasse. But he said he did not believe it is in either side's interest for the situation to be prolonged.
Mr Dobbie added that solving the dispute "might remove negative sentiment about us as a company".
"We could do without it," he added.
Easydate's shares soared from 60p on listing on the Alternative Investment Market in July to 111p in September when Sir Stelio's intervention sent them tumbling. Performance has been volatile since then.
But a trading update yesterday showing that the company is powering ahead prompted investors to push up the company's shares 1.2% as they closed at 124p, a 1.5p gain on the day.
Easydate, whose brands include benaughty.com and maturedating.co.uk, said that in the first nine months of 2010 its revenues have grown at 30% a quarter.
It has increased marketing spend at the same rate. Much of this has been directed towards the north American market where Easydate gained the right in September to operate cupid.com, one of its top brands outside the country.
Some 25% of revenues are from outside the UK, compared to 13% in 2009.
Easydate said its UK monthly revenues from the UK are 70% higher than at the beginning of 2010 and it expects "further healthy growth in 2011".
Mr Dobbie, who previously co-founded and floated Scottish data storage firm Iomart, said that its 14-strong workforce in Edinburgh might expand to 25 in the next year. The company employs around 200 people in the Ukraine.|
|Drw1, what issue is that please?|
tommy ten chins
|No problem tommy-only thing holding these back (imo)is the issue with 'easygroup'as reported in the Scottish Herald.|
|And again thanks drw1|
tommy ten chins
|Thanks for the post drw1|
tommy ten chins
|Oops spoke too soon.|
tommy ten chins
|Whole load of selling, why has the price not slipped as a result?|
tommy ten chins
|This has now doubled since listing..|
|news at CAD today folks....be careful with the spread here folks....|
|Mail - 25/9/10:
UnEasy row as Sir Stelios lashes out
Sr Stelios Haji-Ioannou has accused the founder of Britain's biggest internet dating agency of lying in the latest row involving the combative easyGroup boss.
Sir Stelios took umbrage at comments made by Bill Dobbie, chief executive of easyDate, about his company's name in an interview with the Mail.
EasyDate on Wednesday announced its maiden half-year results following its flotation in June. Dobbie claimed he had not had any communication with easyGroup over his company's use of the 'easy' name and added: 'I wouldn't be surprised if I was to get a letter from easyGroup. If we did, I'm sure we'd approach easyGroup with a plan for us to keep the name.'
But it has emerged that Dobbie had in fact received and replied to a letter from easyGroup's lawyers claiming trademark infringement, in correspondence seen by the Mail.
Sir Stelios said yesterday: 'When I saw the story I thought 'this can't be right'.
'Bill Dobbie is aware of our claims and has responded to our letter; for him to suggest otherwise is completely untrue. I am surprised this sort of statement is coming from a listed company.
'They have a market cap of £80million, so we have to treat it as a serious threat. If I was an investor in this company, I'd be very worried. I definitely won't be buying any shares in them.
'It's difficult to believe people who say things like that.'
This looks like guerilla marketing from easyDate.|
|This is quietly proving us wrong by rising every day....|
|ditto GHF .. i vaguely know the founder of Udate that made a packet floating it on Nasdaq .. didn't too much thereafter but, he made millions. market is very congested and little brand loyalty amongst daters .. co's tend to appear on the scene in a burst and then fizzle.
Agree with GHF, looks fully valued .. the only interesting thing i thought was the intention to utilise mobile technology more fully in the process .... be good if your moby told you who were members each time you walked into a bar or similar .. can see that taking off in a big way for the first mover advantage.|
Saw your post on EROS thread.
Couple of minutes trawl and I'm of the opinion that it is fully valued....irrespective of whether you believe in the business concept...which I don't!
£49million market cap...did £2.063million PTP in 2009.
Yep, growth looks impressive at first glance but I feel share price more than justifies this
35p-40p and I'd give it a serious look, rather than a "speed date".
I'll wait on it coming back or earnings catching up.
Anyway steg, What about you? Fancy an easy date?
|Simple x4 = £3.2 pbt + £1 mill per year for next two years from Amorix.
Roughly 28% tax = £3.3 mill earnings.
77 million shares = 4.2p eps
66p share = PER 15x.
|Havent got any forecasts so no idea how cheap / expensive this is, although have this info.
75,047,067 shares in issue.
Revenue has grown strongly in the 3 years to 31 December 2009. Growth in 2008 was enhanced by the acquisition of www.speeddater.com. The largest component of revenue growth across the 3 years has been the www.benaughty.com website though growth in 2009 was also driven by the "DatetheUK" website and an increasing amount of revenue from international operations.
The largest components of cost of sales are marketing costs incurred either through Google or affiliates, web development costs and credit card charges and commissions payable to merchant providers.
It is important to note that the profit/(loss) from continuing operations, shown in the table above, does not take account of the income to be received in the future from Amorix Limited, a discontinued operation which remains part of the IDE Group of Companies. This client has contracted to pay the
Group £1.08 million per annum for an initial two year period for outsourcing services (further details are set out in paragraph 9.4 of Part V).
In the 3 months to 31 March 2010, the unaudited accounts show that the Group's turnover for the period was £3.53 milion, and that it generated a profit before tax in excess of £0.8 million. The growth in sales has been spread across the Group's websites with a further increase in international sales.
The Directors have noted that this growth in sales and profit has continued in April and May 2010 and been improved by the addition of the business and assets of Allegran Limited.|