Autobytel Inc. (Nasdaq: ABTL), a leading provider of online consumer purchase requests and marketing resources for the automotive industry, today announced higher revenues and net income for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2012, compared with the corresponding prior year periods.
Revenues for the 2012 fourth quarter increased to $16.9 million from $16.2 million last year. Revenues generated from automotive purchase requests, or leads, the company’s core product offering, rose more than 8% to $14.6 million for the 2012 fourth quarter, up from $13.5 million for the same quarter last year, primarily reflecting continued demand from automotive dealers and manufacturers. Revenue from automotive dealers (retail) increased 18%, and revenue from automotive manufacturers (wholesale) grew 1% for the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with last year’s fourth quarter. In addition, the company said that it increased by 7.5% the number of dealers on its retail program, resulting in Autobytel’s highest year-end dealer count since 2008.
Gross profit totaled $6.4 million for the 2012 fourth quarter, compared with $6.9 million one year ago. Gross margin equaled 37.8% of total revenues for the 2012 fourth quarter, versus 42.5% for the fourth quarter of 2011. The decline in gross margin resulted from continued investments to drive increased growth, including a 75% increase in the company’s search engine marketing team to generate additional lead volume and further enhancements to the company’s online consumer content. Additionally, there was a one-time recognition of deferred revenue in the 2011 fourth quarter, which was not present in the 2012 fourth quarter. Autobytel’s longer-term gross margin target remains above 40%, but given continued investment in driving lead revenue growth and its changing revenue mix, the company expects gross margin to be slightly lower in the near-term.
Total operating expenses decreased by 6% to $6.1 million, or 35.9% of revenues, for the 2012 fourth quarter, from $6.5 million, or 39.8% of revenues, for the 2011 fourth quarter. The reduction reflected ongoing cost containment initiatives.