A recent report by Topeka Capital Markets finds that the combination of tough economic times, a rise in the number of singles, social media and mobile technology is causing a resurgence in the "fast food dating" business of online personals. people are a lot more comfortable posting their personal information online.So there's no longer a negative stigma attached to online dating," said the report's author, Victor Anthony, Topeka's managing director of Internet media. In a recent Pew Internet survey, 59 percent of Americans said they consider online dating a good way to meet people compared with 44 percent in 2005. are single, meaning there's plenty of opportunity for dating sites.Other research suggests that more than a third of married couples now meet online. The unmarried population stands at 47 percent, up from 42 percent in 1994, according to the Census Bureau.
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But even though the industry as a whole is growing, not all online personals sites are created equal, and analysts say only a select few make for good investments. Others focus on niche markets like race, religion and ethnicity.
Sites like e Harmony—the second largest online dating website in the U. "There are few stand-out investment opportunities these days," said Mark Brooks, an Internet dating industry consultant based in New York City.
Leading the pack is Match.com, owned by IAC/Inter Active Corp, the Internet holding company controlled by billionaire Barry Diller.
Analysts say is best positioned to capitalize on the surge, so much so that Topeka has increased the value of the company's stock to $98 from $78 and recommends investors purchase shares of IAC in anticipation of a spinoff.
(IAC announced in December that the dating website will be reorganized as a separate business called Match Group, with its own chairman, potentially setting the stage for a spinoff.) "A company like Match, they have the best potential to gain significant market share in terms of the number of subscribers," Anthony said.
If it happens, the move will make it easier to turn Match into a separately traded company, a strategy Diller used before.
IAC previously spun off travel service Expedia in 2005.
Launched in April 1995, is now in 24 countries and hosts websites in 15 languages.
Since acquiring Match.com, IAC has bolstered the personals business with several acquisitions, including Ok Cupid in February 2011, expanding the Match unit's sales to 3 million in (2012) from 6 million in 2008.