Wasn't faxing supposed to be dead by now? Don't tell that to J2 Global
In the third quarter, J2 posted revenues of $37.7 million, a 36% increase from the year-ago period. Net profits surged 54% to $12.5 million or $0.49 per share, excluding a one-time gain on the sale of an investment. The company has $131.6 million in the bank.
True, this is not the hypergrowth of a Google
Looking to the long term, J2 has been investing in its core business. For example, the company has expanded its network to include more than 2,000 cities, with coverage in 26 countries. J2 has also built a full suite of products that cover document management, Web-initiated conference calling, and even unified-messaging and communications services. Its host of online brands, including eFax, all operate on the same robust network, which constitutes a very effective barrier to potential competitors. I imagine that it would require significant cost and time for any other company to build a comparable network.
Even better for J2, current customers of some of its services would probably be inclined to use its other complementary products. J2's extensive customer base and distribution agreements help it cost-effectively market any new services it presents.
The company has skillfully protected its intellectual property, with 26 issued patents. Moreover, the company has been actively enforcing those patents and expects to negotiate several licensing agreements over the next couple of quarters.
To an extent, a move to license represents a worthwhile acknowledgement on J2's part. The company can't get all of the customers, but by licensing its technology to competitors, it can net some high-margin revenue. Over the longer term, this approach will drive prices on these services down unless an agreement on pricing is reached (the rationale goes that more companies offering the same service equates to lower prices). So we come full circle again, as we look at J2's aggressive buildout in other services -- a smart move, should the scenario above become reality.
"J2 Global's three core services -- eFax, eVoice, and Onebox -- contain the drivers for the company's growth," says Scott Turicchi, J2's co-president and CFO. "Each is a profitable service that contains elements of the much-talked-about unified messaging. Our goal is to attract customers to one of the core services within the unified messaging suite and over time convince them of the value of the other services. We intend to execute against this philosophy not only in North America but also on a global basis."
For the fourth quarter, J2 forecasts earnings of $0.50 to $0.54 per share on revenues of $39 million to $41 million. The company also expects growth to be robust in 2006, with earnings and revenue to grow about 30%.
Faxing, it seems, is indeed far from dead.
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Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares of companies mentioned in this article.