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Benefitfocus Inc.'s share price hit a low point in the first week of October. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

For shareholders of Benefitfocus Inc., 2019 has been a year of ups and downs. 

Earlier this year, the stock price of the Daniel Island benefits software company climbed to a five-year high. But by the beginning of this month, the shares had tanked to a low point for the company, which trades on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol BNFT.

Shares of the technology business bottomed out to $21.60 on Oct. 3, the first time it has done so since February 2016. The stock recovered somewhat by the time the markets closed, ending the session at $22.97. 

Nandan Amladi, an analyst with Guggenheim Partners, has been following Benefitfocus since its 2013 initial public offering. He said the dip this year can be attributed in part to two high-level executive exits: Robert Dahdah, who was senior vice president of sales, left in April, followed by chief financial officer Jonathon Dussault, who announced he was leaving in May. 

"Executive departures are always a source of worry for investors," said Amladi, who wrote in a recent research note that Benefitfocus shares are "deeply undervalued." 

A key business strategy has also slowed revenue growth, he said. Since early 2018, Benefitfocus has been pitching brokers to use its software platform, which seeks to simplify the process of buying and selling workplace benefits by connecting employees, employers and brokers.

Those relationships are critical, he said, since brokers sell the majority of benefits in the U.S.

Amladi also said he is confident in Benefitfocus' leadership. 

The swooning stock price recovered somewhat in the second week of October. Shares were trading near $24 Friday.

That's far from the $60 peak over past five years, according to data from Seeking Alpha, an investor research platform. Shares hit that high point last February. 

Raymond James & Associates, another investor services firm that has long covered Benefitfocus, published a research note Oct. 3, stating the company has "shown solid progress" on adding users to its platform this year — even if the stock price doesn't reflect it.

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A Benefitfocus spokesman said important metrics point upward, including the addition of 1 million eligible users to its platform in a single quarter, a record for the company. 

Using Facebook

A local real estate software business was acknowledged as a "success story" for its use of Facebook to help a real estate firm reach home buyers.

Charleston-based BoomTown is geared toward agents, helping them to generate and manage leads. Using Facebook marketing tools, the firm can create marketing campaigns targeted at specific demographics. For a Nebraska real estate agency, that meant limiting the marketing to Facebook users living in West Omaha between 25 and 65 years old.

The idea was to direct possible home buyers to the real estate agency's website. 

"Now we use Facebook to advertise to the masses on behalf of our clients," Dotty Bell, a digital marketing specialist with BoomTown, said in a statement. 

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-937-5594. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.