FactSet Research Systems Gets Back on Track

By Markets Fool.com


Image: FactSet.

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The financial industry has performed extremely well since the end of the market meltdown in early 2009, and the companies that support major industry players have ridden their coattails quite successfully. FactSet Research Systems is just one of those ancillary companies that has benefited from the recovery in finance, and coming into Tuesday morning's fiscal third-quarter financial report, FactSet investors hoped the company would maintain its track record of reasonable growth. FactSet's results largely satisfied investors. Let's look more closely at what FactSet Research Systems said about the most recent quarter.

FactSet keeps climbing
FactSet's quarterly report helped quell some concerns that arose in last quarter's earnings miss. Revenue rose almost 10% to $254.5 million, which was about $1 million higher than the consensus forecast among those following the stock. Adjusted net income climbed 13%, and after removing the impact of a one-time tax gain, FactSet posted adjusted earnings of $1.42 per share, which was a penny better than most were expecting.

The information provider's annual subscription value rose almost 9% on an organic basis, to $1.02 billion, with about two-thirds of that total coming from U.S. operations while the remaining third came internationally. FactSet's currency-neutral 10.5% revenue growth abroad beat out the 8.6% U.S. growth rate after removing the impact of recent acquisitions.

FactSet retained 94% of its clients in the quarter, up a percentage point from last year's corresponding period. FactSet now has more than 2,900 clients, and almost 59,000 professionals are using FactSet workstations to do work in the financial industry.

In his last month as FactSet CEO, Philip Hadley celebrated the information provider's healthy growth. With FactSet President Phil Snow moving up to the chief executive officer role, Hadley said the management team is "well positioned to lead the company into our next phase of growth."

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Image: FactSet.

What FactSet has to look forward to
FactSet also gave investors solid guidance for the future. In the fiscal fourth quarter, FactSet expects revenue of between $259 million and $263 million, bookending the current consensus projection of roughly $260 million. Similarly, FactSet's range of $1.46 to $1.48 per share of earnings would represent roughly 12% growth over last year's fiscal third quarter, and it rests at or above the current $1.46 per share estimate among investors.

FactSet has also been treating its shareholders well lately. Last month, the company boosted its dividend by 13% to $0.44 per share, marking its 17th consecutive year of annual payout increases. At current share prices, though, FactSet's yield remains just above 1%; with the company paying so little of its earnings in dividends, some investors wonder whether FactSet should distribute more to shareholders.

Yet FactSet is returning capital to its investors in other ways. During the quarter, FactSet spent just over $70 million to repurchase more than 440,000 shares of stock. That brings its total spending on buybacks and dividends over the past 12 months to about $317 million. Under its current share repurchase authorization, FactSet can buy back almost $213 million more in stock if it chooses.

FactSet stock reacted somewhat favorably to the news, with shares climbing 1.5% in the first hour of pre-market trading following the announcement. FactSet's penetration within the financial industry is impressive, and with more than 80% of its clients representing buy-side firms, the company's future success relies on its clients' ability to keep making the most of the current market environment. The biggest long-term threat to FactSet is a retrenchment in the financial markets; but with the company already having survived what many see as the worst of times for financials, bullish investors believe FactSet has plenty of room to move higher even after its recent gains.

The article FactSet Research Systems Gets Back on Track originally appeared on Fool.com.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends FactSet Research Systems. 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.