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FactSet Fights Back Against a Bumpy Market

By Dan Caplinger - Mar 15, 2016 at 2:40PM

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The financial services company produced solid results despite some recent jitters.

Image source: FactSet Research Systems.

The long bull market has been kind to financial information specialist FactSet Research Systems (FDS 0.97%), which has found a growing audience for its proprietary informational products within the financial industry. Yet coming into Tuesday's fiscal second-quarter financial report, FactSet investors still had some concerns about whether the company would be able to overcome the poor start the financial markets suffered during early 2016.

As it turned out, FactSet was able to give investors even more than they had hoped for in terms of bottom-line growth, and the company's guidance for the future also looked solid. Let's take a closer look at FactSet Research Systems to see what we can learn from today's report.

FactSet keeps things moving forward
FactSet's fiscal second-quarter results showed the tenacity the company has had in staying ahead of changing conditions in the financial services industry. Revenue grew 14% to $281.8 million, which was only slightly less than the $283 million consensus forecast among investors following the stock. FactSet did even better on the bottom line, posting adjusted net income of $66.1 million, up 10% from the year-ago quarter. That produced adjusted earnings of $1.59 per share, which was a dime higher than most investors were expecting.

Looking more closely at FactSet's results, the company remains fundamentally sound. Annual subscription value climbed 9.5% on an organic basis to $1.14 billion, with identical growth rates for both FactSet's buy-side and sell-side clients. The strong dollar once again played a role in holding back FactSet's international business, but growth rates were roughly equivalent domestically and outside the U.S. when you adjust to make the two segments' results currency-neutral.

Although currency impacts hurt the company's overseas results, currency-neutral growth rates for revenue were higher internationally than in the U.S. during the quarter. The recently acquired Portware once again helped contribute to a 1.5 percentage point drop in adjusted operating margins to 33.1%. Another big positive came from the reinstatement of the research and development tax credit, which FactSet said brought in benefits of $7.3 million during the quarter.

FactSet's fundamental business metrics were also healthy. Retention remained above the 95% mark, and client counts rose by more than 50 to hit 3,057 as of the end of February.

CEO Phil Snow was happy with FactSet's results. "With our unique content, superior workflow and analytical solutions, and unmatched client support," Snow said, "we will continue to partner with our clients to grow their businesses."

What's ahead for FactSet?
FactSet's guidance could have given investors some comfort that choppy financial markets aren't likely to have an immediate impact on the company's results. For the fiscal third quarter, FactSet expects revenue to come in between $286 million and $289 million. The Portware acquisition will continue to weigh on operating profits, with the company expecting more than a full percentage-point drop in operating margins resulting from the acquisition. Adjusted earnings of $1.60 to $1.64 per share would be ahead of the current $1.57 per share projection among investors, although FactSet did make some minor changes to its definition of adjusted earnings that could lead some outside analysts to change their numbers in order to make them consistent with the new definition.

However, FactSet investors didn't seem comfortable with the company's performance, as the stock fell almost 2% in the first hour or so of trading following the announcement. With the financial information provider having seen such strong results in the years in which the stock market moved nearly straight up, it's natural for FactSet's shareholders to be nervous as signs start to appear that the long bull market might finally be coming to an end.

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