These IT Stocks to Rise in 2013, Says Pacific Crest

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Pacific Crest’s software analyst Brent Bracelin recently said that we’re entering the “click to commute” era, in which a shift from client / server computing to cloud computing is picking up speed.

Based on feedback from 16 companies at a Pacific Crest IT conference last week, writes Bracelin, the enterprise IT market has seen “the rise of shadow IT, where business users are directly consuming cloud resources and bypassing traditional internal IT,” and “there has been a noticeable change in acceptance of cloud / SaaS at the Fortune 1000 in the last six months.”

Companies such Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM)SciQuest (NASDAQ: SQI), and Aspen Technology (NASDAQ: AZPN) are set to benefit from application software, writes Bracelin:

Through 2012, application software grew better than infrastructure software. Historically, in an economic slowdown, application software has been more adversely affected than infrastructure software. Salesforce.com, SciQuest, and AspenTech’s Q4 strength provided further evidence of the resiliency of application software, and we believe that it is likely to continue through 2013.

In this post I will dig deeper into the Q4 results and the future growth drivers of the three companies Bracelin mentioned. 

1. Salesforce.com 

Company Overview: Salesforce.com is an enterprise cloud computing company that provides business software on a subscription basis. The company is best known for its on-demand Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions.

Earnings and Guidance: The company reported $0.51 earnings per share for the fourth quarter, beating the analysts’ consensus estimate of $0.40 by $0.11. The company had revenue of $835.00 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $830.85 million. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $0.43 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 32.1% on a year-over-year basis.

Salesforce.com has set its Q1 guidance at $0.40-0.42 EPS and its FY14 guidance at $1.93-1.97 EPS. Analysts expect that Salesforce.com will post $1.96 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Growth Driver: Saleforce has just reached an annual revenue run rate of $3 billion. The company now has the product breadth to become a $10 billion revenue company with its six product lines -- sales force automation, customer service, marketing, collaboration, human capital management, and cloud development platforms. The company has expanded its "total available market" to greater than $40 billion.

Salesforce has recently acquired Buddy Media, a social enterprise software unit that enables clients to listen, engage, gain insight, publish, advertise and measure social marketing programs. Buddy Media had a run rate of about $100 million in annual revenue before it was acquired.

2. SciQuest

Company Overview: SciQuest, Inc. is a company that provides an integrated, web-based end-to-end e-procurement solution.

Earnings and Guidance: SciQuest reported $0.07 earnings per share for the fourth quarter, beating the analysts’ consensus estimate of $0.06 by $0.01. The company had revenue of $19.70 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $20.31 million. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $0.09 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 38.7% on a year-over-year basis.

SciQuest has set its Q1 guidance at $0.06-0.07 EPS and its FY13 guidance at $0.34-0.38 EPS. On average, analysts predict that SciQuest will post $0.37 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

Growth Driver: Expanding the commercial presence remains SciQuest’s most prominent near-term goal. The 2012 acquisitions of Upside and Spend Radar are helping to establish a broader footprint in the commercial space.

3. Aspen Technology

Company Overview: Aspen Technology provides software and services to process industries. The company began more than 30 years ago in a lab at MIT.

Earnings and Guidance: The company recently announced its second quarter financial results in which President and CEO Mark Fusco said the Burlington, Massachusetts - based company “delivered strong second quarter results that exceeded our estimates on all key metrics.” AspenTech reported revenue of $77.3 million, an increase of 16% year over year, for the last three months of 2012. The company’s net income for the second quarter was nearly $10 million, or 10 cents a share, more than two-and-a-half times the net income of $3.8 million, or 4 cents a share, for the same quarter a year ago.

The company’s operational execution remains at a high level, which is evidenced by free cash flow generation of $34.5 million during the latest quarter. Aspen Technology didn’t provide any specific guidance. However, Fusco said, “With over $50 million of free cash flow generated during the first half of our fiscal year, we feel very good about the company’s position as we are heading into our seasonally strongest cash flow quarter.”

Growth Driver: In 2012 Aspen Technology has acquired software assets from Houston, Texas-based Refining Advantage Inc., which is located not far from Aspen Techology’s Manufacturing and Supply Chain Center of Excellence in Houston.

Aspen Technology purchased the company’s Pipeline Scheduling System (PSS) and Dock Scheduling System (DSS) software. While the company did not disclose financial details of the purchase, it did say acquiring the assets would enable Aspen Technology to add tools that would enable its customers to manage and schedule entire facilities including docs and pipelines.

The PSS software is a scheduling tool for enabling pipeline companies and refineries, while DSS is used by refineries and terminals to schedule their docks, enabling them to save on carrying costs that are incurred because of delays in on-loading or off-loading cargo.


Anindya Batabyal has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Salesforce.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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