Ellie Mae 4Q earnings down slightly

Mortgage software provider Ellie Mae (ELLI) earned $1.8 million, or 8 cents a share, for the fourth quarter down from $1.9 million, or 11 cents a share, a year earlier.

Results for the three months ended Dec. 31 include a tax benefit of $1.6 million due to a change in the tax valuation allowance from the acquisition of Del Mar Datatrac in August.

Excluding the impact of the tax benefit, fourth-quarter earnings were $2.8 million, or 13 cents a share. The Del Mar Datatrac acquisition is expected to accelerate the company’s growth by significantly expanding its lender customer base.

Revenue rose 48% to $18.8 million, compared to $12.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. Software revenue increased 58% to $15.9 million from $10.1 million a year earlier. Network revenue was $2.8 million, essentially flat with a year earlier.

For the year, Ellie Mae earned earned $3.6 million, or 18 cents a share, including a tax benefit, up from $800,000, or 5 cents a share, in 2010. Before the tax gain, the company earned $2 million, or 10 cents a share, in 2011.

For the first quarter, Ellie Mae expects to earn between $1.9 million and $2.4 million, or 9 cents to 11 per diluted share, on revenue of $17.9 billion to $18.3 million.

The company based its 2012 projections on the estimates calling for $1 trillion of mortgage originations this year.

For the full year, Ellie Mae expects to earn $2.4 million to $3.8 million, or 11 cents to 17 cents a share, on $68 million to $70 million.

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