Liberty Interactive Corp Declares Ownership of Stake in LendingTree, Inc. (TREE)

Liberty Interactive Corp

revealed that they own a 26.9% stake in LendingTree, Inc. (NASDAQ:TREE) in a Schedule 13D/A disclosure that was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, November 3rd. The investor owns 3,223,990 shares of the stock valued at approximately $880,794,068. The filing is available through EDGAR at this hyperlink.

Liberty Interactive Corp

provided the following explanation of their ownership:

The information contained in Item 4 of the Schedule 13D is hereby amended and supplemented to add the following information:
On April 4,2017, the Reporting Person entered into an Agreement and Plan of Reorganization with General Communication, Inc., an Alaska corporation (“GCI”, and following the amendment and restatement of its articles of incorporation, “GCI Liberty”), and Liberty Interactive LLC, a Delaware limited liability company and a direct wholly owned subsidiary of the Reporting Person (“LI LLC”), as amended by Amendment No. 1 to Reorganization Agreement, dated as of July 19,2017, by and among the Reporting Person, GCI and LI LLC (as amended in accordance with the terms thereof, the “Reorganization Agreement”). Pursuant to the Reorganization Agreement, the Reporting Person will acquire a controlling interest in GCI Liberty in exchange for the contribution to GCI Liberty of certain assets and liabilities currently attributed to the Reporting Person’s Ventures Group (the “Contribution”). The Reporting Person will then distribute the shares of GCI Liberty representing such controlling interest to the holders of Liberty Ventures common stock in redemption of all outstanding shares of such stock. In connection with these transactions, the Reporting Person currently intends to transfer its entire equity interest in the Issuer, its liabilities under the Forward Transaction, and all of its rights, benefits and obligations under the Spinco Agreement (as defined below) and the Registration Rights Agreement (as defined below), to GCI Liberty.
As previously reported, the Reporting Person is party to (i) the Spinco Agreement, dated as of May 13,2008 (the “Original Spinco Agreement”), with IAC/InterActive Corp, a Delaware corporation (“IAC”), Barry Diller, and the other Liberty Parties (as defined therein) party thereto, as assigned pursuant to the Spinco Assignment and Assumption Agreement (Tree.com), dated as of August 20,2008 (the “Assignment and Assumption Agreement”, and together with the Original Spinco Agreement, the “Spinco Agreement”), by and among IAC, the Issuer, the Reporting Person and Liberty USA Holdings, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company and wholly owned subsidiary of the Reporting Person (“Liberty USA”) and (ii) that certain Registration Rights Agreement, dated as of
3
August 20,2008 (the “Registration Rights Agreement”), by and among the Reporting Person, the Liberty Parties and the Issuer. The Reporting Person is filing this Amendment to report its entry into the Assignment and Assumption Agreement, on November 2,2017 (the “Assignment”), with the Issuer, GCI, Liberty USA and Ventures Holdco, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Reporting Person (“Ventures Holdco”), pursuant to which, subject to the completion of the Contribution and the splitoff of the Reporting Person’s interest in GCI Liberty (the “SplitOff”) contemplated by the Reorganization Agreement and the other terms and conditions set forth in the Assignment, the Reporting Person is permitted to assign, and, in such event, GCI Liberty will assume, effective immediately prior to the effective time of the SplitOff, the Reporting Person’s rights, benefits and obligations under the Spinco Agreement and the Registration Rights Agreement. Pursuant to the Assignment, the Issuer agreed that following the consummation of the SplitOff, GCI Liberty will be entitled to all of the Reporting Person’s rights, benefits and obligations under the Spinco Agreement and the Registration Rights Agreement. Following the completion of the SplitOff and the effectiveness of such assignment and assumption, the Reporting Person will not have any equity interest in the Issuer.
Subject to the foregoing and except as described in this Amendment and the Schedule 13D or contained in the agreements incorporated by reference as Exhibits hereto, the Reporting Person does not have and, to the best of the Reporting Person’s knowledge, none of its directors or executive officers have, any current plans or proposals that relate to or would result in any of the actions set forth in clauses (a) through (j) of Item 4 of Schedule 13D.
Notwithstanding anything contained herein, the Reporting Person specifically reserves the right to change its intention with respect to any or all of such matters. In reaching any decision as to its course of action (as well as to the specific elements thereof), the Reporting Person currently expects that it would take into consideration a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, the following: the Issuer’s business and prospects; other developments concerning the Issuer and its businesses generally; other business opportunities available to the Reporting Person; developments with respect to the business of the Reporting Person; changes in law and government regulations; general economic conditions; and money and stock market conditions, including the market price of the securities of the Issuer; provided that any course of action taken by the Reporting Person will be subject to the contractual restrictions described in Item 6 of this Amendment and the Schedule 13D.
The information contained in Item 6 of this Amendment is incorporated herein by reference.

A number of other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Renaissance Group LLC raised its position in shares of LendingTree by 2.4% during the second quarter. Renaissance Group LLC now owns 2,859 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $492,000 after buying an additional 68 shares during the last quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. raised its position in shares of LendingTree by 0.6% during the first quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 12,575 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $1,576,000 after buying an additional 70 shares during the last quarter. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company raised its position in shares of LendingTree by 1.4% during the second quarter. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company now owns 5,059 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $871,000 after buying an additional 70 shares during the last quarter. Municipal Employees Retirement System of Michigan raised its position in shares of LendingTree by 5.6% during the second quarter. Municipal Employees Retirement System of Michigan now owns 1,710 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $294,000 after buying an additional 90 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Texas Permanent School Fund raised its position in shares of LendingTree by 1.7% during the second quarter. Texas Permanent School Fund now owns 5,319 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $916,000 after buying an additional 90 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 72.00% of the company’s stock.

LendingTree, Inc. (NASDAQ TREE) traded up $9.00 during mid-day trading on Friday, hitting $273.20. 168,713 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 226,328. The stock has a market capitalization of $3,196.87, a PE ratio of 81.18 and a beta of 1.51.

LendingTree (NASDAQ:TREE) last released its earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The financial services provider reported $1.17 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.97 by $0.20. The firm had revenue of $171.50 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $157.97 million. LendingTree had a net margin of 5.49% and a return on equity of 16.52%. The company’s revenue was up 81.3% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.80 EPS. research analysts forecast that LendingTree, Inc. will post 3.06 earnings per share for the current year.

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In other news, CEO Douglas R. Lebda sold 4,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $264.94, for a total value of $1,059,760.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, Director G Kennedy Thompson bought 5,000 shares of LendingTree stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 31st. The stock was acquired at an average cost of $230.91 per share, for a total transaction of $1,154,550.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 5,000 shares in the company, valued at $1,154,550. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 27,850 shares of company stock worth $6,875,633 over the last ninety days. Insiders own 21.90% of the company’s stock.

Several research firms have recently issued reports on TREE. Citigroup Inc. reiterated an “outperform” rating and set a $290.00 price objective on shares of LendingTree in a research report on Friday, October 27th. Oppenheimer Holdings, Inc. lifted their price objective on shares of LendingTree from $245.00 to $290.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research report on Friday, October 27th. Zacks Investment Research cut shares of LendingTree from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Thursday, October 26th. Needham & Company LLC reiterated a “buy” rating and set a $300.00 price objective (up previously from $250.00) on shares of LendingTree in a research report on Thursday, October 26th. Finally, Royal Bank Of Canada lifted their price objective on shares of LendingTree from $160.00 to $250.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research report on Friday, July 28th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. LendingTree has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $247.08.

LendingTree Company Profile

LendingTree, Inc (LendingTree) is engaged in operating an online loan marketplace for consumers seeking loans and other credit-based offerings. The Company’s online marketplace provides consumers with access to product offerings from various lenders, which it refers to as Network Lenders, including mortgage loans, home equity loans and lines of credit, reverse mortgage loans, auto loans, credit cards, personal loans, student loans, small business loans and other related offerings.

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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for LendingTree (NASDAQ:TREE)

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