A recent earnings report from Nuance Communications (NASDAQ:NUAN) may provide clues about how Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5 is faring. Nuance supplies key technologies that power Apple's voice recognition tool, Siri. Let's dive into the release to see if we find anything telling.

A tale of growth
Nuance continued to deliver strong top-line growth across all of its businesses. For the fourth quarter, total revenue grew to $468.8 million, or 28% when compared to 2011 fourth quarter results. In the same period, Nuance's net income rose from a quarterly loss to a gain of $117.6 million, or $0.36 per share.

On a quarter-over-quarter basis, sequential revenue growth came in at nearly 9%. It's important for a company like Nuance to keep delivering strong sequential growth for the foreseeable future. If uptake begins to stall, long-term investment merit will quickly come into question.

It's simple, really
The whole reason investors like Nuance in the first place is for its long-term growth prospects. Consumers and businesses alike are beginning to realize the value of integrating voice recognition technology. Talking tends to be three times faster than typing, which saves times and increases productivity. At the end of the day, that saves money for businesses. A business that helps other businesses save money is attractive in my book.

Just how well did each of Nuance's businesses fare? Here's a quick breakdown:


Revenue (millions)

Change (YOY) 

Change (QOQ)

Percent of Total

Health care




















Source: Nuance Q4 Results.

Based on size alone, health care and mobile continue to be Nuance's key growth drivers. However, health care's below-average sequential growth rate raises a caution flag. Going forward, I'll be keeping a close watch on sequential growth rates to ensure the long-term thesis remains intact.

Not enough data
Unfortunately, the iPhone 5 was only available for nine days of Nuance's quarterly results, ruling out the possibility of gaining meaningful insight into the iSituation. By the time Nuance's next quarter rolls around, Apple will have already reported, and that will likely weigh heavily on Nuance's short-term performance. Even without any tasty iClues, it's still clear that Nuance continues to deliver strong results, leaving me encouraged that the story has just begun.

Fool contributor Steve Heller owns shares of Nuance Communications and Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple and Nuance Communications. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.