Banking

Charlotte firm lands on Fortune’s ‘fastest-growing’ companies list

Charlotte-based LendingTree has been named to Fortune’s 2017 fastest-growing companies list, the only firm in the city to make the ranking.
Charlotte-based LendingTree has been named to Fortune’s 2017 fastest-growing companies list, the only firm in the city to make the ranking. WWW.MICZEKPHOTO.COM

Charlotte-based LendingTree has been named to Fortune’s latest fastest-growing companies list, the only firm in the city to make the ranking.

LendingTree placed third in the annual scoring of 100 firms trading on a major U.S. stock exchange by growth in revenue, earnings per share and other factors. California-based Natural Health Trends is first, China-based Vipshop Holdings second, in the 2017 listing released Monday.

It marks the second year LendingTree, which connects consumers to lenders, has made the ranking. It was also on 2016’s list, coming in 10th place.

Despite a sluggish U.S. economy and stagnant loan market, LendingTree’s revenue grew 62 percent in the first half of 2017 compared with the year before, according to a Fortune analysis.

In addition, as of late August LendingTree’s shares have risen 120 percent this year to $223, Fortune said. Since 2008, the firm has multiplied shareholders’ money 30 times, delivering annual returns of 47 percent, according to Fortune.

CEO Doug Lebda founded the company in 1996 when, as a young accountant, he became frustrated with the process of finding the perfect mortgage. He sold the entire firm in 2003 to Internet conglomerate IAC/InterActive, but it was later spun out again in 2008 as a public company it struggled during the financial crisis and cut staff.

The ranking comes as LendingTree has been on an acquisition binge in recent months, with the goal of diversifying its offerings and taking advantage of rising interest rates.

Since November, the company has made at least three internet property acquisitions. Also in November, it announced a $47 million expansion in Charlotte over five years.

Martin Marietta Materials, a Raleigh-based building materials supplier, is the only other North Carolina company on the 2017 list. No South Carolina companies made this year’s ranking.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

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