I shudder to think what my Wall Street life would have been like without my "little helpers," Bloomberg and FactSet (NYSE:FDS). Apparently a lot of other people feel the same way, since FactSet reported more than 1,400 clients (with more than 23,000 users) for the quarter ended in February and a renewal rate above 95%.

Revenue was up almost 25% for the quarter, with operating income growing almost 26% and net income growing 17%. The discrepancy between operating income and net income was mostly a tax effect caused by a tax benefit in the year-ago period.

Although we at The Motley Fool have praised FactSet in the past for its robust cash flow generation ability, free cash generation for the first six months of this fiscal year has been lower because of a sharp increase in client receivables.

I don't believe the spike in receivables is anything to worry about yet (the majority of the amount is less than 30 days old), but investors should still keep an eye on it, since it's an important component of the cash flow equation.

FactSet offers subscribers a wealth of data relating to portfolio analytics, wealth management, and investment analysis. With more than 200 databases of information, there's not much in the way of investment research, economic data, financial data, price data, and news that you can't find by way of FactSet.

One piece of good news not in the company's press release is that the controversy over Wall Street "soft dollars" appears to be receding. Put simply, "soft dollars" refers to a mechanism by which fund managers pay for things such as research and information through higher trading costs, which come out of investors' pockets instead of their own.

There was never a full-blown government probe over the matter, although many people were afraid there would be. While much of the soft-dollar business that goes on is legitimate, fears surfaced that a public stink would cause many firms to abandon such arrangements altogether.

So why does any of this matter to FactSet? Well, about 75% of the company's clients are buy-side (investment managers), and much of that business takes the shape of soft-dollar arrangements -- perhaps in the neighborhood of 40% of the company's revenue. With the issue seemingly dying down, though, it doesn't appear as though FactSet is in any immediate danger.

For a growth company with very high returns on assets and equity, FactSet doesn't seem to have an excessive valuation. Still, the trailing P/E of about 25, the much higher EV-to-FCF, and the price/earnings/growth (PEG) ratio above 1 could all be warning signs to more value-conscious investors.

Though competition from the likes of Reuters (NASDAQ:RTRSY), Dow Jones (NYSE:DJ), and the FAME Info business of SunGard (NYSE:SDS) is a threat, there's no doubt that FactSet has brand value. Growth investors looking for a different angle on financial services might want to take a further look, though they should remember to keep an eye on that cash flow in the quarters to come.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).