Autobytel Inc., which is battling back from massive losses in 2008, is using patent infringement settlements with competitors to upgrade its Web sites.
The company also is rolling out new software to improve the quality of the leads it sells to dealerships.
The strategy is paying off, CEO Jeffrey Coats said last month at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando.
Through cost-cutting and more profitable sales leads, Coats said, Autobytel improved its bottom line last year despite a sharp decline in revenue.
Revenue last year plunged to $52.9 million from $71.2 million in 2008. Still, Autobytel cut its net loss in 2009 to $2.4 million from $15.5 million in 2008. The 2008 loss included severance-related costs of $6.9 million and a noncash impairment charge of $57.6 million in 2008.
With about $25 million in cash on hand and no debt, Autobytel may make an acquisition this year, Coats told investors in a conference call last month.
Coats, 52, has guided Autobytel's turnaround since December 2008. That's when his fellow Autobytel board members made him CEO after he had led a strategic board review of the company to determine whether it should be sold.
A longtime senior executive and investor in technology companies, Coats joined the Autobytel board in 1996 when he was managing director of GE Equity Inc.