ADP Tries Getting Even Better

Shareholders of Automatic Data Processing (NYSE: ADP  ) , a human-resources service provider, have been disappointed this year, with the stock price trading in a narrow range. Given the company's size, it's hard to continue to produce standout results. But management is not giving up; it's made some interesting acquisitions and has plans to spin off its Brokerage Service Group. Both moves should help improve growth.

In the third quarter, revenues increased 15% to $2.2 billion, and net income increased from $220 million, or $0.38 per share, to $257.5 million, or $0.46 per share.

In guidance, the company increased its revenue growth rate from 10% to 11% for fiscal 2006, with earnings expected to grow 17% to 20%.

ADP has been quite active with acquisitions lately, snapping up Taxware, which brings tax-content and compliance solutions to the table; VirtualEdge, which offers tools for recruiting; Employease, which develops Web-based HR and benefits applications; and Mintax, which provides tools for corporate tax incentives.

All of these are fast-growing businesses. The Employease buyout gives ADP a sophisticated on-demand infrastructure -- a source of growth for companies such as Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM  ) , RightNow (Nasdaq: RNOW  ) , and NetSuite.

The acquisitions will also help ADP leverage new products and services into its large distribution system. It's a good bet that over the next couple of years, some of these small companies will become $100 million businesses with strong margins.

International sales are another growth opportunity. The good news on this front is that ADP has a strong product offering in GlobalView, which provides payroll and HR compliance for 30 countries, with more signing up. In light of Sarbanes-Oxley and other tough regulations, GlobalView is getting lots of traction.

ADP's spinoff of the Brokerage Service Group should also help it. That sector constitutes 20% of revenues, but by spinning it off, ADP will be able to focus more on its core business.

It will take time for ADP's various initiatives to hit critical mass, so the stock price may still tread water for a while. Then again, like all great companies, ADP is concerned about building lasting value -- and that's always good for shareholders.

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article.He is currently ranked 11th out of 11,654 in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's new investing community. Check it out for yourself, and add your own ratings.


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