Up 78% Since June, Is Support.com's Rally Supportable?

It's been a bit more than a month now since my fellow Fool Seth Jayson related how online tech support company Support.com (NASDAQ: SPRT  ) trounced Wall Street's expectations in its Q4 earnings report. Since then, we've been waiting for full specifics on just how good a quarter Support had, in the form of its Form 10-K filing with the SEC.

While waiting, I had the opportunity to talk with CEO Josh Pickus to get some details on how business is going. Now the 10-K has arrived, giving us the rest of the story. So here's the rundown:

Facts and figures
On the surface, Support.com looks chancy. GAAP profits ran negative last year. However, things are starting to improve.

The company has notched back-to-back GAAP-profitable quarters. It's expected to turn full-year profitable this year. With free cash flow firmly positive for the year ($1.5 million) and revenues on a tear (total revenues up 34%, services revenues up 55%), while cost of services rose only 22%, Support is on track to achieve this goal in 2013. Longer term, analysts have the company pegged for 20% annual earnings growth.

Support's income statement strength is mirrored on its balance sheet, which shows $56.4 million in cash, equivalents, and short term investments, against negligible long-term debt. Pickus points out that his firm needs to keep a cash cushion of about $20 million to fund operations and assure customers of its financial strength, but that still leaves a lot of dry powder with which to fuel explosive growth.

Future facts
With so much cash lying around, investors might worry that Support could be tempted to blow its reserves on ill-considered acquisitions. Not to worry. It's only made four acquisitions of any size in the past six years, and Pickus confirms he's not interested in buying just for the sake of buying. New subsidiaries must bring both valuable technology and vibrant businesses complete with new customers and revenue streams.

Meanwhile, Support seems content with the business it's got. As Pickus explains, there's little risk of key customers Office Depot (NASDAQ: ODP  ) and OfficeMax (NYSE: OMX  ) leaving the fold after their merger. They, like key rival Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS  ) , all use Support.com to provide tech support to their customers. And as a rule, Pickus says, the profit margins they earn on this revenue are superior to what their core retail business provides -- and the revenues are growing faster as well.

With overall growth in the retail industry averaging 12%, and Support pegged for 20%, this seems true for Support as well as for its customers.


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