Bernstein Research provided a compelling list of prospects in the software area that could become merger and acquisition targets. The research firm has provided a list of fast growing software stocks over the years that have a high level of buyouts. Analyst Toni Sacconaghi provides an interesting case for why hardware companies might be interested in these software players.
Amazingly Millennial Media is listed as the fast growing stock over the next twelve months (NTM), yet it has one of the lowest valuation multiples. Considering Millennial has previously been covered, the other interesting picks include ClickSoftware Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ:CKSW), Qlik Technologies Inc (NASDAQ:QLIK), and Tangoe Inc (NASDAQ:TNGO).
One important piece of information to understand when reviewing lists based on revenue growth is that the report is only as good as the data. In the case of ACI Worldwide listed with 35% NTM growth, the majority of that growth comes from an acquisition. Stripping those numbers out and ACI is only growing around 10% and doesn’t even belong on the list.
See the table provided by Bernstein below:
Service optimization solutions
ClickSoftware Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ:CKSW) trades at the lowest sales multiple on the list. The company is struggling with the transition to cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) from on-premise offerings. The move impacts short-term revenues, but improves the long-term prospects of the company.
Just this week, the company announced that Q2 2013 revenue of only $24.5 million with a loss causing the stock to collapse $1 from $8.4. Analysts expect revenue to jump over 21% next year as the SaaS revenue picks up the growth rate. If the company gets its revenue groove back on, the stock is extremely attractive with an enterprise value of only $180 million and revenue jumping to $134 million next year.
Similar to a lot of stocks on the list Qlik Technologies Inc (NASDAQ:QLIK) trades near 52-week highs, but unlike those other stocks it only trades at 6 times trailing revenues. The company is a leader in business discovery software and recently hired a new CFO that can be a concern. The new CFO is very experienced with previous positions at Crane Co. and Xerox Corporation (NYSE:XRX). While great experience, investors need to question whether a CFO with a history in Fortune 100 companies can handle the unique growth opportunities of a small cap technology firm.
Analysts expect revenue to surge nearly 23% in 2013 followed by another 20% in 2014. Unlike most of the software stocks on the list, the company is solidly profitable though it trades at around 50 times forward estimates. With an enterprise value of only $2.3 billion, Qlik Technologies Inc (NASDAQ:QLIK) offers a reasonable valuation at only 5 times 2014 revenue.