The technology sector has found ways to bring together people from across the globe to work toward common goals, and with customers having ever-increasing demands, IT services companies that have the capacity to meet those demands can find themselves with extremely profitable businesses. That's the business model that EPAM Systems (NYSE:EPAM) is striving for, providing sophisticated software development services using thousands of highly educated technology professionals located mostly in Eastern Europe. With clients including the best-known tech companies in the business, EPAM Systems has huge potential for growth, and coming into Wednesday afternoon's fourth-quarter financial report, EPAM investors had high expectations for gains in sales and earnings. EPAM's quarterly results largely met those expectations, and the future still appears brighter than ever for the company. Let's take a closer look at EPAM Systems, how it fared to close out 2014, and what 2015 holds for the IT services provider.
EPAM programs big growth in revenue, earnings
EPAM Systems produced another set of impressive results in the fourth quarter. Revenue rose to a record $202.2 million, rising 28% from the year-ago quarter. Moreover, negative currency impacts actually held back growth, costing EPAM more than eight percentage points of additional growth in currency-neutral terms. Adjusted earnings came in at $0.62 per share, up 29% from last year. Both revenue and earnings were higher than most of those following the stock had expected, with consensus figures shooting for $0.61 per share in adjusted earnings on $201.6 million in sales.
For the full year, EPAM Systems' numbers were equally impressive. Total revenue of $730 million was up 31.5% from 2013 to hit a new record, and adjusted net income of $2.22 per share was 34% higher than 2013 earnings.
EPAM Systems touted the recognition it has gotten for its efforts. The company got the top ranking among technology companies in the latest Forbes 2014 List of America's Best Small Companies. It has also won awards for its technical expertise, winning the Best Agile Category at 2014's European Software Testing Awards.
CEO Arkadiy Dobkin also reflected the optimism that EPAM has in its growth. "We are confident that we are on the correct path," Dobkin said, "as demonstrated by our over 30% revenue growth and by EPAM reaching the $200 million quarterly revenue mark for the first time in our history."
Will EPAM's transformation keep taking hold?
Of even greater importance to EPAM Systems is the fact that it has moved beyond simply being a software outsourcing firm to developing full-service solutions across the IT spectrum. By incorporating new offerings like digital strategy and managed services, EPAM is seeking to offer a more complete package for potential clients. Dobkin clearly understands the importance of expanding carefully, doing so "while maintaining our traditionally strong focus on the engineering quality of our deliverables." Still, EPAM demonstrates an uncanny awareness of the implications of further growth, and it's looking to boost its business while still remaining the go-to high-quality provider of IT services to its clients.
Financially, EPAM fully expects its success to continue throughout 2015. The company's guidance for the full year included 21% to 23% gains in revenue that should produce adjusted net income growth of 20% to 22% for the year. Still, first-quarter guidance for the company was mixed, with revenue projections of $196 million to $198 million coming in above consensus estimates, while earnings per share of $0.54 to $0.55 is quite a bit below the $0.60 per share that those following EPAM were expecting.
Philosophically, though, EPAM Systems seems poised to keep moving forward with its evolution. In Dobkin's words, "As we turn our attention to 2015, we face another year of challenges, and feel that EPAM is very well positioned to continue its transformation to support its growth and expansion." Given its past success, it's reasonable for EPAM Systems shareholders to have full confidence that Dobkin and his team can get the job done this year and in the years to follow.