Founded in 1984 in a garage, Sybase
Its hottest product area right now is the mobile business, which grew by 23% during the past year.
But along the way, Sybase ran into an obstacle named Oracle
Sybase is also affected by the generally slow-growth environment. In the fourth quarter, Sybase revenues increased just slightly from $218.6 million to $223 million. Revenue from licenses increased only 5% to $91.3 million. And net income was $28.4 million, or $0.31 per share, up from $24.1 million, or $0.25 per share, in the same period a year ago.
What's more, as reliable as Sybase's software may be -- it helps companies with such critical areas as database applications, data warehousing, and tools for managing complex IT environments -- it's not without risk altogether. Other major software companies offer the same types of solutions, and they sell to the same customers Sybase does.
As for the iAnywhere mobile subsidiary, Sybase has made a variety of strategic acquisitions over the years in this sector, including the purchase of AvantGo and Extended Systems, and has effectively combined its powerful database with its mobile technologies. That relationship allows customers to gain easy access to corporate information from micro-browsers on mobile devices and to use those browser for crucial services such as customer relationship management. But even though the mobile sector enjoyed healthy growth, the lag in the company's other divisions washed out the healthy gains.
There's no doubt that Sybase has a solid balance sheet, with $865.3 million in cash. The company also generates significant amounts of cash flow. (Just last year, for example, it posted $170 million in cash flow from operations.) Unfortunately, the company says its cash flows will be flat for 2006.
Given the success of its mobile business, why doesn't Sybase buy more companies in the same sector? Why not put its cash hoard to use? If it doesn't take that kind of step, it's hard to foresee much overall growth for the company.
Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares of companies mentioned in this article.