Data collator Acxiom (NASDAQ:ACXM) reports its fiscal Q2 2007 earnings Wednesday afternoon. In honor thereof, let's do a little collating of our own, and review the company's recent numbers.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? Eleven analysts still follow Acxiom. Three say buy and eight say hold.
  • Revenues. Wall Street will be looking for 7% sales growth tomorrow, and $354.3 million in revenue.
  • Earnings. Profits are predicted to grow twice as fast and come in at $0.23 per share.

What management says:
In September, Acxiom published the contents of a recent investor presentation, laying out its "roadmap" of financial goals for this fiscal year. Looking at the midpoint of its assumptions, the firm reminded investors that back in April it was projecting $1.4 billion in sales this year, and $1.08 per share in profits -- for a 30% improvement over last year.

By August, the firm had knocked those assumptions down a notch. In the wake of its recent self-tender/share buyback, Acxiom says the resulting lower share count will bump profits per share up $0.08. Unfortunately, the company didn't have the cash on hand necessary to pay for the buyback, and had to take on even more debt for this purpose. Interest on the new debt will eat up the entirety of the "concentration" premium (and then some), and there are also now $0.04 in new charges to earnings. Result: the firm's now looking for $1.02 per share, give or take a few pennies.

What management does:
After some struggle, Acxiom has its margins turned around again, and each of rolling gross, operating, and net margins have now been rising steadily for three quarters straight. Judging from the contents of the "roadmap," it looks like Acxiom still isn't satisfied with these numbers, though, and aims to cut operating costs further, pushing its operating margin toward its ultimate goal of 15%-18%.

Margins %




























All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

One Fool says:
In September, Acxiom finalized the results of its Dutch auction tender offer, buying back 11.1 million shares of its own stock for $25 per share, or $277.8 million in total. Fewer than three shares out of four tendered for that price were accepted, as the offer was more than 35% oversubscribed. Evidently, a lot of people thought Acxiom's offer of $25 per stub was more than fair -- in which case, one has to wonder whether the remaining shares are really worth the $25 that Mr. Market is currently assigning them.

Honestly, I have my doubts. Acxiom is growing strongly, sure. Its mid-point estimate for this year suggests 23% year-over-year earnings growth. But the analysts who track the company think that long-term, only 15% growth is sustainable. Measured against the firm's current trailing P/E ratio of 30, Acxiom could be overvalued. And even if you weigh the growth against free cash flow (of which the firm says it will generate about $123 million this year) rather than earnings, the resulting enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio of 22 suggests to this Fool that the shares are fetching more than they're worth.


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Speaking of Acxiom's progress, monitor how it's been doing in recent quarters by flashing back to our past reports:

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Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above.