DoubleClick Weighs Possible Sale, Other Options

NEW YORKDoubleClick said late yesterday that it has hired Lazard Freres & Co. to explore strategic options for the company to achieve greater shareholder value, including a sale of part or all of its businesses or a spin-off.

The New York investment firm will also consider a recapitalization, extraordinary dividend or share repurchase for the online ad technology firm.

DoubleClick shares (DCLK) closed on the Nasdaq today at $7.12, up 76 cents or 12 percent, putting the company’s market capitalization at just over $900 million. The stock’s 52-week high is $12.81 and the low is $4.52.

The company has unloaded at least one non-core asset this year, selling its 15 percent stake in AdLink Internet Media AG this fall for about $9.5 million to the German online ad network’s majority shareholder, United Internet AG.

On the flip side, DoubleClick has made two acquisitions in 2004, picking up software provider SmartPath in March for an undisclosed sum and search and affiliate marketing specialist Performics in June in a deal worth up to $65 million.

The New York-based company last week reported that third-quarter revenue rose 8 percent to $81 million compared to $74.8 million in the year-ago period [IQ Daily Briefing, Oct. 29]. Its Q3 net income totaled $15.4 million, or 12 cents per share, up from $6.3 million, or 4 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Also last week, DoubleClick revised its full-year outlook due to lower estimated revenue from its marketing automation and data management solutions businesses and better than anticipated results from its direct-marketing unit Abacus and Performics. The company narrowed its 2004 revenue guidance to $290-295 million from the previously projected $290-305 million, and raised its earnings forecast to 21-24 cents per share from 13-17 cents per share.