At Infospace Net Searches Are Clicking

Springing Back to Life
Infospace (INSP ), a hot Internet stock that flamed out when techs fizzled, has reignited: Shares have quadrupled, from 3.75 a year ago to 16.51 on Sept. 3. New management led by Jim Voelker took over in December, 2002, and overhauled the company. Infospace's biggest business is its search-and-directory unit: Through its Web sites it helps users locate information, people, and businesses. Infospace charges advertisers a fee when a user clicks on a search result or views a listing. Infospace generated 136 million paid searches in the second quarter. Its cash flow is on the rise as revenues heat up. In the first quarter, it posted $4.8 million -- but in the second, cash flow jumped to $14 million. That's only half of the story: Suitors are eyeballing Infospace because of its strong balance sheet, low valuation relative to cash flow, tech assets, and $300 million in cash, says Jonathan Cohen of JLC Capital Management. The company's search unit alone should bring in $80 million in 2003, on growth of 25%. Stewart Barry of Delafield Hambrecht also thinks Infospace may be a target of major Net players. He sees Infospace earning 47 cents a share in 2004 on revenues of $144 million, and 77 cents on $167 million in 2005. His 12-month price target: 21. Infospace declined comment.

Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.

By Gene G. Marcial

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