On the same day it agreed to pay $2.9 million to the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges of deceptive lead generation practices, ValueClick (NSDQ: VCLK) said its Q4 profits dropped 15.8 percent to $18.1 million. Meanwhile, revenues were up 14 percent to 183.1 million in quarter. More details about the settlement and its earnings outlook below:
— FTC Settlement: The Westlake Village, CA-based company agreed to pay $2.9 million to settle charges that it engaged in fraudulent online advertising practices. The FTC began looking at ValueClick’s methods, which had to do with incentive-based ads, last spring. By way of example, these methods typically involve – though not necessarily specific to ValueClick’s case – online marketers offering web surfers something of value, like an iPod, in exchange for personal data. When ValueClick admitted that it was the subject of a regulatory inquiry, it saw its stock plummet 40 percent at one point. Since then, lead gen has been somewhat tainted and has spurred the industry organizations like the Interactive Advertising Bureau and companies like AOL (NYSE: TWX) to draw up standards on behavioral targeting and users privacy. ValueClick’s settlement does not require it to admit wrongdoing. It did say that it would adopt “best practices” for lead generation and that it will work with the IAB on refining its industry guidelines. More details in this separate release.
— Full 2007 Results: Profits for the year as a whole were $71.2 million, up 13.7 percent from 2006’s $62.6 million. Revenues grew as well, coming in $645.6 million, an increase of $100 million, or 18 percent, from $545.6 million the year before.
— 2008 Outlook: By the end of 2008, ValueClick expects revenues to range between $730- to $745 million. And for the upcoming Q1 period, revenues are anticipated to wind up between $166- and $170 million.