In the year since Barak Eilam took over as chief executive officer of Nice Systems Ltd., the company topped $1 billion in revenue and the stock hit an all-time high. Analysts say more records are in store.
Oppenheimer & Co. and FBR Capital Markets raised their price targets last week to $60 and $59 after the maker of digital surveillance and monitoring systems reported fourth-quarter sales and gave a 2015 forecast that beat analysts expectations. Nice shares rose 9.9% last week to a record $53.80, compared with a 1.1% gain in the Bloomberg Israel-US Equity index. Israeli shares added 3.3% to 209.50 shekels at the close in Tel Aviv.
Nices profit and revenue rose last year as it tapped into growing demand for data analytics in its call center, security, and financial fraud and compliance businesses. Eilam, who was appointed CEO last February after 15 years with the company, has installed a slate of new managers, while increasing efficiency and getting products to market faster, he told investors on a Feb. 5 conference call.
2015 should be a pivotal year in terms of growth, margin expansion, and more respect from the Street, Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR, said in an e-mail.
Revenue at Raanana, Israel-based Nice rose 7% to a record $1 billion last year, while adjusted net income jumped 8% to $144 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company forecast adjusted earnings per share of as much as $3.20 in 2015, compared with a $3.01 average analyst estimate.
Big data, which consists of helping corporate customers analyze reams of data from multiple sources, is transforming business with technology giants like Oracle Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. seeking out acquisitions in a bid to stay abreast of the technology.
Nice analyzes the surveillance data it collects in real time and analytics represented 60% of new business in the fourth quarter, Eilam said on the call.
The shares have gained 42% in the past year. Still, the company trades at 17 times projected profit for the next 12 months, compared with an industry average of 31. Thats because much of the growth in past years was driven by acquisitions, according to Greg McDowell, an analyst with JMP Securities LLC in San Francisco.
One reason the stock has worked is that people havent believed that this is a 9% organic growth company, McDowell, who raised his price target by $2 last week to $58, said by phone Feb. 6. Youve seen accelerating growth with a mix of more and more recurring revenue.
Nice, which counts Home Depot Inc., Carrefour SA, and American Express Co. among its customers, could still see its margins pressured by competition from Verint Systems Inc., McDowell wrote in a Feb. 5 research note. Oracle may also offer financial crime and compliance services, he said.
Eilam said many of the large deals Nice closed in the fourth quarter were the result of removing barriers between sales teams in different divisions of the company. He wants to wring more growth from operations.
Theres still plenty of opportunities and a long way to go, Eilam said on the call with investors. The improvement was not just one to two quarters, its something we see gradually growing in 2015 and beyond.