Los Angeles Business Journal

Spark Shares Climb on Analyst Attention

By Natalie Jarvey Monday, May 13, 2013

Analysts are feeling the love for Spark Networks.

Shares of the Beverly Hills online dating company closed at their highest price yet on Monday following the news that two investment banks had initiated Spark coverage.

St. Louis bank Stifel Nicolaus began providing Spark Networks research on Monday with a “buy” rating and a 12-month target of $10 a share. Meanwhile, Chicago firm William Blair & Co. has also initiated coverage, rating Spark’s stock “outperform.”

The analysts’ interest follows the company’s first quarter results. Spark, which owns and operates dating websites such as JDate and ChristianMingle, reported earnings last month. The company had a net loss of $2.9 million, compared with a loss of $1.7 million for the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 18 percent to $17.3 million.

“Going forward, we will continue to execute against our long-term strategic plan by strengthening our brands and leadership positions in the Christian and Jewish markets,” Chief Executive Greg Liberman said in a statement at the time. “(The year) is off to a strong start, and we look forward to continuing to build upon our momentum throughout the remainder of the year.”

Spark shares closed Monday up 56 cents, or more than 7 percent, to $8.50 on the New York Stock Exchange. That’s the highest close for Spark Networks’ stock since the company went public in 2006.