Nuance Transcends the New iPad

Nuance Communications (Nasdaq: NUAN  ) is at it again.

The big headline news yesterday was Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) "New iPad" unveiling, with its underlying expectation that the pair would take their complex relationship to the next level with the inclusion of Siri. But that storyline fizzled out: The device will feature mere Voice Dictation instead of a full implementation of Apple's virtual assistant. We'll have to wait and see if Nuance also provides the recognition backbone for Voice Dictation as it does for Siri, but my guess is that it does.

Amidst the flurry of iPad headlines, Nuance announced that it is acquiring smaller rival Transcend Services (Nasdaq: TRCR  ) for roughly $300 million. Nuance shares were enjoying gains on the acquisition announcement before the iPad event even began.

It's an all-cash deal that values Transcend at $29.50 per share, a nearly 41% premium over the prior day's close. Transcend specializes in medical transcription and speech editing services, so it should complement Nuance's own medical offerings.

The acquisition is arguably more important than the Apple/Siri storyline in some ways, since Nuance's overall healthcare segment brings in more dollars than its mobile and consumer segment, even though both grew at roughly the same pace last quarter.

Healthcare revenue grew 23%, to $145.3 million, while mobile and consumer sales increased 24%, to $108.5 million, last quarter. However, mobile relationships are now "more comprehensive and complex" and could have more revenue growth back-loaded through delayed and deferred revenue recognition.

Nuance expects this acquisition to close in the second half of the year, and that it will add between $140 million and $150 million in revenue and be accretive to non-GAAP earnings to the tune of $0.08 and $0.09 per share in fiscal 2013.

The deal also adds to Nuance's list of medical-related acquisitions in recent times, including eScription in 2008 and Webmedx just last year. Beyond healthcare, it acquired text-input specialist Swype and voice-recognition rival Vlingo last year, among others.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) compete with Nuance's offerings, but Big G's efforts are more geared towards its mobile moves (lead by Nuance co-founder Mike Cohen) while Mr. Softy has a bigger fish to fry right now.

There's no mention of taking on debt to finance this purchase, and the company is sitting on about $883.8 million in cash and investments to use. So long as its coffers don't run dry and it doesn't need to resort to debt, I'm perfectly happy as a shareholder with Nuance going about its acquisitive ways.

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Fool contributor Evan Niu has a synthetic long options position in Nuance Communications and owns shares of Apple and Nuance Communications, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Google, Nuance Communications, and Apple; creating a bull call spread position in Apple; and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On March 09, 2012, at 12:06 AM, WmTelling wrote:

    Good insight! Will be interesting to see where we are in this voice responsive revolution 12-18 months from now. BTW, the word used in the following sentence fragment, 'lead by Nuance co-founder Mike Cohen' used the past tense of lead improperly. It should just be 'led':)

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