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Bear of the Day: Benefitfocus (BNFT)

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Benefitfocus (BNFT - Free Report) is a $400 million provider of cloud-based software solutions to consumers, employers, insurance carriers and brokers. The company's platform of products and services enable customers to efficiently shop, enroll, manage and exchange benefits information.

I chose BNFT for the Bear of the Day for a couple of reasons -- besides the first criteria of being a Zacks #5 Rank due to falling earnings estimates.

First, I was an investor in BNFT shares in 2019 around $25 as I sought more software exposure in my Healthcare Innovators portfolio. I also saw the company as a potential M&A target, with a market valuation near $1 billion, for the likes of Workday (WDAY - Free Report) or Paycom Software (PAYC - Free Report) .

At the time of my investment, I noted that more than 23 million insured individuals and their dependents were managed on the platform.

Based in Charleston, South Carolina, the company was growing revenue in the high teens to over $350 million.

But I had to let it go below $20 in 2020 as the idea just wasn't working, and sales and EPS numbers just kept getting revised downward.

Coming out of the pandemic, shares got above $16 but have since slid again as each subsequent earnings report offers little for bulls to feed on.

Revenues have flat-lined just above $255 million and this year's consensus EPS of -0.41 cents represents an annual loss of 28%.

So the other reason I wanted to talk about the demise of BNFT is that it stands out as the proverbial black sheep among HR and benefit management companies who are growing strongly and their stocks making new highs.

See my Bull of the Day on Paycom (PAYC - Free Report) for more on the success of several juggernauts in HR and Human Capital Management software systems.

In that piece, I also talk about the innovations of companies like Paycom into "fintech" arenas with progressive apps and data access for employees.

When you look at all the innovation happening across fintech, it appears there are many crossover applications to the communication between companies and their workers.

I expand on the universe of fintech disruption further in this week's edition of Cook's Kitchen...

FinTech Unicorns: How to Spot Early Winners

In that article and video, you'll get a good idea of the size of the revolutions occurring for over 20 different financially-connected industries and their customers -- which could represent another hundred industries.

While I wanted to see Benefitfocus succeed, and I still do, I'm glad I had the risk management sense to cut my losses long ago. Especially since there are hundreds of other new opportunities coming down the fintech river.

Kevin Cook is a Senior Stock Strategist for Zacks Investment Research where he runs the Healthcare Innovators portfolio and recently bagged 90% gains in CRISPR stock Intellia Therapeutics (NTLA) this year.

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Benefitfocus, Inc. (BNFT) - free report >>

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