iSelect Ltd shares are soaring: But is it a good investment?

Following the news that the cost of health insurance will rise by an average of 5.6% from April 1, shares of Medibank Private Ltd (ASX: MPL) and NIB Holdings Limited (ASX: NHF) rocketed.

In the last month alone both shares have been on fire. With Medibank Private and NIB Holdings putting on whopping gains of 12.5% and 17.5%, respectively. While it may be too late to jump on the price rise bandwagon now, there is one other company that could still benefit indirectly.

That company in question is price comparison website iSelect Ltd (ASX: ISU).

Although the health insurance price rises were across the board, I still feel the rises have been so steep that people will flock to its website to compare plans. In the same way Webjet Limited (ASX: WEB) will find you the cheapest flights for your travelling, iSelect aims to find you the cheapest price for your health insurance needs.

But is iSelect worthy of an investment on the back of this? I’m not so sure. The company has really struggled recently and produced a quite terrible half year result in February which saw revenue rise by 1%, but gross profit decline by 37%. On the bottom line the company made a $4.2 million loss, compared to a $5.4 million profit for the same period last year.

This performance led to full year guidance being reduced, much to the dismay of shareholders who headed to the exits en masse. A lot of the blame for this loss was placed on management’s perplexing decision to maintain seasonally high June staffing levels throughout the seasonally low first half period.

In my opinion, this sort of performance does not give shareholders much confidence in a management team which is now onto its third CEO since its listing on the Australian Stock Exchange.

While the shares are still on the cheap side and potentially offer shareholders some good returns in the years ahead, I would be hesitant to invest in iSelect today. I see it as a high risk investment in a fiercely competitive market which could turn sour at any time.

For this reason, I would much rather invest in fellow consumer discretionary shares like Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT) and Retail Food Group Limited (ASX: RFG), which I feel offer stable growth.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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