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Make a Play for Ellie Mae

NEW YORK (Real Money) -- Unless you're a mortgage professional, you've probably never heard of Ellie Mae (ELLI). But if the name sounds familiar, it's because it's a play on government-sponsored enterprises involved with home loans, Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB).

Ellie Mae, however, is a $325 million private technology company that provides software solutions for the residential mortgage industry. I'm not sure why a company would want to associate itself with Fannie Mae, which just about blew up the world, but it is a catchy name.

The company operates the Ellie Mae Network, which is one of the largest electronic mortgage origination networks in the U.S. Operational since 2000, it connects mortgage originators, bankers, brokers and service providers, helping automate much of the origination and funding of residential mortgages.

The Pleasanton, Calif., company was founded in 1997 and serves nearly 4,000 customers and 50,000 users, representing more than 20% of total U.S. mortgage loan volume in the U.S. Co-founders Sigmund Anderman and Limin Hu are deeply involved in the company's direction as chief executive and chief technology officers, respectively. Anderman founded several housing related companies prior to Ellie Mae, while Hu's background includes more than two decades of software and business development work.

Since the mortgage crisis of the past few years, there has been an abundance of focus and increased scrutiny on the residential mortgage industry. As any homeowner can attest, the mortgage process was always quite laborious and paper intensive, but now that lenders are required to generate even more disclosures and documentation, automating the process has become a top priority.

The company's solutions include electronic document management, customized partner websites, compliance management, income verification, and a number of other customizable add-on solutions. Ellie Mae estimates it is only servicing about 2% of a total $2.5 billion addressable market, indicating a huge opportunity to convert users not yet utilizing its products.

The flagship Encompass platform is the leader in the loan origination software (LOS) sector, accounting for 40% of the market share by volume. Despite mortgage volume declines since 2009, the company has been able to drive revenue growth of more than 47% during that time frame. This is a result of multiple growth drivers targeted at over 7,500 mid-sized mortgage-generating units and nearly 110,000 industry professionals.

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