Thursday, January 26, 2006

Factiva Grows the Top Line While Wrestling With the Bottom Line

Well, it's one of those days when you have to go through the details of earnings reports carefully to get a clear story. The good news at Factiva is that their top line grew by 12 percent in 2005 to USD 281 million, a report in line with InfoUSA''s 11 percent increase. However operating income at Factiva was down 36 percent, including a $4.3 million "restructuring charge" that was "primarily reflecting employee severance and termination of an operating lease" according to parent Dow Jones' SEC filings. This charge presumably accounts for a negative operating income at Factiva for 4Q05, which otherwise would have been about at the same levels as 4Q04 and down only 12 percent for the year. InfoUSA provides an important benchmark for performance, though: it managed a 77 percent boost in net operating income for 2005 and a 70 percent rise for 4Q05. InfoUSA has been long known for lean-and-mean operations and with the addition of OneSource Information Services last year it has been applying those talents to a premium business information service that is benefiting from its aggressive moves into sales force automation integration.

As the press release from Factiva today noted it has a lot of things to consider in its plus column for 2005: its sales integration services, reputation management and taxonomy services have advanced its ability to bring business news and information into more useful contexts in its core accounts. But as parents Dow Jones and Reuters wrestle with their own struggles to prop up their bottom lines Factiva is going to have to move quickly from being a coddled experiment to a strong contributor to both top and bottom lines. With its restructuring and a strong '06 product announcements thus far there's reason to think that it's moving in that direction, but it's going to have to be a sprint rather than a trot as competition from across the spectrum zeroes in on Factiva's core value proposition.
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