Upswelling Macromedia

The last time the Fool wrote about software provider Macromedia (Nasdaq: MACR  ) was in mid-2001, and things weren't looking good for the company back then. The company was losing money, scaling back, and facing waning sales. If it were a ship, it would have been in the midst of a vicious storm. The kind of storm in which some ships make it and some don't. But the storms have calmed now, the ship is riding high again, and it looks to be smooth sailing ahead.

Shareholders are celebrating the calm waters today by bidding up the stock 19% to $21 and change. That's still below the firm's 52-week high of $30, but way ahead of its 52-week low at $11.35.

The reason for the good cheer? Macromedia more than doubled its net income in its fiscal fourth quarter to $14.7 million, or $0.20 a share. Revenue increased 22% to $102 million. The company expects to take in $100 million to $105 million in revenue this quarter, and $410 million to $430 million for the year. That may be a modest estimate and here's why.

Since the early days of the Web, developers have strived to infuse more of the attributes of print media and video. Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE  ) has been the leader in the former, and Macromedia has ruled the latter. Developers have pretty much got the print aspect down, but the video perspective is still evolving rapidly, in large part due to the increase in broadband access to the Internet.

Notice just in the last couple of years how much online advertising has changed. A couple of years ago, motion on the Web was largely limited to jittery animated images reminiscent of the first cartoons, blindingly bright blinking text, and the ever-annoying Flash animated intro pages.

Today, however, advertisements on the Web are getting very similar to those on TV, with the added benefit of not having to take a commercial break to present the information. On the Web, content and advertising are easily commingled. This is an unstoppable trend, and Macromedia is at the forefront of it.

Right now, motion on the Web is still largely relegated to advertising and the creators of such advertising showing off their talents. But, I expect motion on the Net to encroach on static content beyond the realm of advertising, and shape the way content is delivered. And I expect that this company will play a big part in that trend, and put up some increasingly big numbers going forward.

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Fool contributor Mark Mahorney doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned.


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