Picture: 123RF/Alexey Malkin
Picture: 123RF/Alexey Malkin

 New York — Match Group shares rallied the most in two years after the company gave an optimistic earnings report and outlook, fuelled by dating app Tinder’s surging subscriber growth.

The shares gained as much as 24%, the most intraday since May 2016 and a record high. They were trading at near $90.07 before midday  in New York on Wednesday.

Tinder delivered Match a “blowout” quarter, Cowen & Co analyst John Blackledge wrote in a note, adding that management expects continued subscriber momentum.

Match’s revenue jumped 18% from a year earlier to $498m, the company said on Tuesday, $9m more than Wall Street forecasts.

The gain was fuelled by a 39% boost in new subscribers for Tinder, or more than 500,000. The performance prompted Dallas-based Match to raise its full-year forecast for revenue growth to the “high teens” from a previous outlook for an increase in the the “mid teens”.

Match is owned by billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp. Since going public in 2015, Match has quadrupled its market capitalisation, largely driven by explosive growth in Tinder, the dating app where people swipe right on photos of prospective dates to indicate interest.

Tinder boosted its average subscriber base to 5.2-million in the second quarter, the second highest increase ever, driving direct revenue growth of 46%.

Match is also on an aggressive global expansion mission, acquiring dating apps in Japan and hiring local talent to help reinvent Tinder in places such as South Korea, where the app’s “hook-up” culture is frowned upon. Match also said it invested in the Egypt-based dating app Harmonica, which will help it serve 33 predominantly Muslim countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Match runs dozens of other dating sites such as OkCupid, Plenty of Fish and Match.com, but subscription growth in these products pales in comparison to Tinder as they work through a re-branding to modernise for mobile devices.

“They are not advertising as heavily [in these apps] and we are not expecting to see any growth there,” Benjamin Black, an analyst at Evercore ISI, said in an interview before the results were released. “Subscription growth is going to be all about Tinder again this quarter.”

Match also reported net income of $128m, down 3.4% from a year earlier. Earnings per share of 43c  beat estimates for 40c. Match said it expects revenue of $535m  to $545m  in the third quarter, topping analysts’ estimates, and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $200m to $205m.

On the conference call on Wednesday morning, Match’s CEO Gary Swidler responded to analyst questions on Tinder’s recent efforts to sidestep the Google Play app store. In April, Tinder launched a new default payment process that skips Google’s app store “to offer user’s choice whether to use Google Play or credit cards” straight into Tinder’s app, Swindler said.

This new payment flow allows Tinder to avoid paying a cut of revenue to Google for listing it on Play. Swindler said Match expects to see increasing financial benefits from the payment switch in the current quarter and would be looking into options for rolling it out on Apple’s app store as well.