Ebix Attempts to Make Up for Its "Shortcomings"


Ebix (NAS: EBIX) has had a tough ride this year. The company's shares are down more than 40% since a late-March shorting report that questioned Ebix's business model and branded it a "house of cards." Ebix has tried to arrest its shares' plunge through insider purchases and share buybacks, but those measures haven't made a dent in its share-price woes.

Let's set aside any all of the company's "shortcomings" for a moment, and delve a little deeper into Ebix's performance.

Revenue matters
Ebix has produced very high levels of growth in the past five years. Its compounded top-line growth rate stands at an impressive 43.5%. Its LTM revenue growth was 27.3%, in fact, with no signs of that halting any time soon.

Recently, Ebix acquired health information provider A.D.A.M. in a bid to establish itself as a health information exchange. The company considers this a key future growth area.

Ebix outperforms its rivals with an ROE of 26.4%. Peers such as privately owned Lawson Software and InsWeb (NAS: INSW) appear relatively weak by that metric, with scores of 6.5% and 14.3%, respectively. Efficient, growing profits have helped fuel Ebix's performance here. Net income margins have risen to 46.5% in the last 12 months, compared to 20.4% back in 2006.

Ebix's trailing-12-month free cash flow stands at $56.6 million, up from $39.3 million a year ago. Given Ebix's $533 million market cap and robust growth, that figure looks very respectable. The company appears poised to generate strong and increasing cash flows on a regular basis.

From a P/E standpoint, Ebix's looks way undervalued compared to its peers. Its P/E stands at 8.1, whereas InsWeb has a P/E of 40, and Lawson has a P/E of 19.2. Of course, Ebix's low ratio owes partly to its shares' slump.

In a bid to arrest that recent plunge, Ebix recently announced plans to repurchase close to $75 million of its stock. The buyback should help the company boost its EPS and generate higher returns for its shareholders.

On a cash basis, Ebix is also less expensive than its peers, as its trailing enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio suggests. EBIX's TEV/FCF stands at 10, compared to InsWeb's 23.3, which suggests that it's a relatively cheap purchase. As the cash generation power of the company increases, it's likely we'll see further gains on the FCF side, which means that investors should be looking at this stock while it's down.

The Foolish bottom line
Based on numbers alone and the growth potential for Ebix, it seems like a good stock to add to one's portfolio. But given the skepticism surrounding the company, it could be a risky bet to take at the moment.

If you are a risk-taker, and you believe that this company can rectify itself in the future, this would be the ideal stock to hold.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Shubh Datta doesn't own any shares in the companies mentioned above.The Motley Fool owns shares of Ebix.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Ebix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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