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Is Match Group a Buy Now?

Match Group (NASDAQ: MTCH) is by far the largest company in the huge online dating market -- but it had to take quite a bit of goodwill onto its balance sheet to establish that position.

In this clip from the Industry Focus: Tech podcast, Motley Fool analysts Dylan Lewis and Sarah Priestley talk about how big of a risk the company's significant amount of goodwill is. Also, they look at where the company is trading today, and what kind of investor will want to take note of its long-term potential.

A transcript follows the video.

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This podcast was recorded on July 8, 2016.

Dylan Lewis: One other risk I think is worth bringing up is -- you talked about their acquisition history. Twenty-six acquisitions since 2009. They carry a ton of goodwill on their balance sheet -- $1.3 billion, to be exact. That's something that is important to keep in mind when you're looking at an acquisition-heavy company. As a reminder to listeners, goodwill is often the difference between acquisition value and the intrinsic what-you-can-peg value of a business. If I buy Sarah Priestley Enterprises for $7 billion, and the market value of that is currently $5 billion, I'm paying a $2 billion premium that's being pushed along to the balance sheet as goodwill. That's fine, so long as we're able to realize that premium we see in the business.

If you want a great layout of how this can go poorly, check out the write-off episode that Sean O'Reilly and I did a couple of months ago. There are a lot of acquisitions that simply don't work out. They've been really smart in acquiring businesses that are within their niche and align very well. They build out this very robust portfolio of hyper-focused dating sites. But as a serial acquirer, that's something you need to be aware of.

Sarah Priestley: Yeah, they've paid a premium to own the amount of companies in the industry that they own.

Lewis: And that's established them as this huge market leader, and how they manage to have twice the market share of anyone else. The downside of that is they carry a ton of goodwill.

Priestley: Yeah, it's just something that investors should bear in mind, I think.

Lewis: Lastly, looking at their valuation and how to think about this business, on a trailing P/E basis, they're around 30. Their forward P/E is 15.5. There's obviously a big ramp-up expected within the coming year. Those are pretty attractive numbers. The reality is, this is a business that grew its top line 20% last quarter, and they're GAAP-income positive, which is nice to hear. That's not always the case for these high-growth companies. And, they operate in a space that's very easy to scale. They're moving toward pretty much pushing everything online, with The Princeton Review stuff, and all the dating stuff they do it online, so there's not a ton of overhead with those types of businesses. It's actually a pretty attractive valuation, given their growth.

Priestley: It is an attractive valuation, especially if you buy into the growth in the industry at large. This is rarely one of the few plays you can make into the industry. And yes, there are a number of other players, but most of these players are operating under Match Group. Really, you're spreading your risk. If you're interested in online dating from an investor's perspective, if you believe in the growth that it's going to continue to have, and it's shown great potential, then this is really a good idea.

Lewis: Yeah, this is the way to play it. I'll say you need to buy the story of people pivoting from the freemium model over to something that causes them to pay. Whether that story will play out remains to be seen. But I think that's a very important narrative to watch with this company.

Priestley: Absolutely. You have to be able to see if they're going to be able to monetize websites like Tinder. It remains to be seen.

Lewis: They've seen some success with Tinder Plus, and some of the incremental product increases and developments they've done. Those have done a pretty good job of stoking the fire. It's certainly a fun company to watch. We'll check them out in the coming quarters and see how they do.

Dylan Lewis has no position in any stocks mentioned. Sarah Priestley has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Match Group. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.