Informatica (NASDAQ:INFA), which develops data integration software, didn't impress investors with last week's third-quarter earnings report. In fact, since late September, the stock has been drifting downward. But for the most part, this reflects short-term noise. Rather, looking at the next year, the company should continue to post strong growth.

In the third quarter, revenues increased 21% to $78.9 million. There was also a healthy 19% increase in software license sales to $28.2 million. This should help propel future revenues, because license sales usually generate ongoing maintenance and services revenues.

Net income was $9.4 million, or $0.10 per share, which compares to net income of $8.3 million, or $0.09 per share in the same period a year ago.

Founded in 1996, Informatica helps customers with their data problems. For example, if a firm wants to implement software from SAP (NYSE:SAP), then its existing data will need to be migrated to the new system. This is an extremely complex process, but one which Informatica has refined over the years.

Or, suppose a company acquires another company. Often, there's a need to consolidate the data so as to provide a "single version" of the truth. This not only helps improve performance but also allows for compliance with government regulations (such as Sarbanes-Oxley).

Also, companies are starting to use on-demand applications, which is software delivered via the Internet. While this tends to be low cost, it does pose problems in terms of data integration. After all, the data in an on-demand application resides on servers outside a company.

The good news is that Informatica has a broad suite of solutions to help businesses solve these tough problems.

What's more, it's been aggressive in forming alliances to expand the distribution of its products. In the quarter, there was renewal of its distribution arrangement with Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL). It also launched a new product to help (NYSE:CRM) customers deal with integration. And there was a reseller deal with RightNow (NASDAQ:RNOW), which provides on-demand customer solutions.

But at least for now, investors have been lukewarm. And it's hard to understand why, since the third quarter tends to be slow for Informatica.

However, this usually means that sales get pushed into the fourth quarter, generally making it a strong one. In terms of guidance for the fourth quarter, revenues are expected to range from $87 million to $90 million, with earnings of $0.16 to $0.18 per share.

Most importantly, the need for data integration appears to be a long-term trend. And for the most part, Informatica is one of the few companies that provides a comprehensive set of software applications for the category. It's definitely a good place to be.

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article.