BI Vendors Flourish Despite Downturn

Business intelligence software vendors weather slowdown better than makers of some other types of software.

Business intelligence software vendors have weathered the economic slowdown better than most of the software industry as evidenced by the latest round of earnings news in the space.

MicroStrategy Inc., Actuate Corp., Business Objects SA and Crystal Decisions Inc. all reported profits for the fourth quarter of 2002, with Business Objects and Crystal seeing sales rise year-to-year as well.

MicroStrategy, once dogged by revenue restatements that turned profits into losses, turned in four straight profitable quarters in 2002, after reporting net income of $4.6 million in the fourth quarter, up from a $23.1 million net loss in the fourth quarter of 2001. The Vienna, Va.-based company turned a fourth quarter profit despite a slight drop off in quarterly revenues, which came in at just under $42 million after reporting $43.7 million in revenues in the fourth quarter of 2001. However, software license revenues were up at MicroStrategy, from $18.7 million in Q4 2001 to $20.5 million in the most recent quarter.

Other BI vendors also showed some positive signs in their most recent quarterly earnings reports.

Actuate turned a $712,000 profit, after losing $3.3 million in the year-ago period. Revenues fell slightly year-to-year, from $28.8 million to $27.3 million. License revenue at the South San Francisco company dropped from $17.6 million to $14.3 million.

Business Objects, of San Jose, Calif., enjoyed a revenue increase to $126.2 million from $116.8 million in the year-ago period. License revenues were off, though, at $66.1 million after coming in at $72.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2001. Net income also fell, from $14.1 million to $12.8 million.

Privately-held Crystal Decisions reported fiscal second-quarter revenues of $71.2 million, up 38 percent from the year-ago period, according to company officials. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company did not break down its numbers any further but said license revenues were up 43 percent year-to-year with net income and operating profit margins also up.

NetIQ Corp., developer of the WebTrends Web analytics and reporting platform, saw total revenues climb from $66.8 million to $80.3 million year-to-year. License revenues were up from $50.2 million to $56.6 million. The San Jose company managed a $1.3 million profit after losing $183 million in the year-ago period.