What Was Behind Last Week’s YP Stock Spike?

Last week several of the leading listed directory companies saw sizable spikes in their stock prices following their Q3 earnings announcements, though the surge seems to have died off today.

For example, Dex One announced its earnings on Nov. 3. On the call, CEO Alfred Mockett revealed that Dex will not achieve its previously stated goal of returning to growth and reaching 30 percent of revenues from digital in 2012. Yet the company’s share price doubled on Nov. 3 to 1.29 per share, up from the previous day’s close of 0.64.

SuperMedia also got a boost that day, though a less dramatic one. Its share price rose to 2.47 from 1.85 at the Nov. 2 close. Also Canada’s Yellow Media, which has experienced a dramatic fall in its share price in recent weeks, got a nice bump last week after its earnings announcement, also on Nov. 3.

So why the gains? It may be that there is increasing confidence that publishers have a chance to turn the corner with new digital products. Even though Dex announced it would not meet targets it made quite a big deal of at its February investor day meeting in New York, it did make a case that it is making real progress on the digital side of its business. The company announced on the call that digital revenues grew by 15 percent in Q3 and now represent 16 percent of revenues. Dex noted its SEM business in particular has hit its stride and grew by 30 percent.

It appears to be just a coincidence that all three companies are also at times mentioned in ongoing speculation about consolidation of the North American directory industry. At BIA/Kelsey’s recent DMS ’11 event in Denver, Joe Walsh, then the CEO of Yellowbook, said quite directly that consolidation will and should occur within the next one to two years. It’s important to note that Walsh mentioned no company by name in his remarks.

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