"Tomorrow looks to be a happy day for investors in educational software maker Blackboard
By now, you've seen the numbers: the 47% rise in revenue to $55.3 million, the year-over-year septupling of profits to a lucky number $0.07 per share, and, of course, the better-than-lucky-number-7% rise in stock price with which investors greeted the news. You've read management's explanation of the results, which credited "strong growth in Blackboard's annual licensing of enterprise level products and ASP hosting service to global academic institutions including clients resulting from the acquisition of WebCT for much of its success." And if you're a subscriber to Motley Fool Hidden Gems, you've probably had a chance to see what our team of analysts thought of the report (hint: they liked it).
So what more is there to add at this point? Actually, plenty. Blackboard just gave us a refresher course in the benefits of being a virtual monopoly -- lessons we've seen again and again at larger firms like Microsoft
Lesson No. 1 in the benefits of being a monopoly
You don't have to spend as much on R&D to stay ahead of the other guy ... when there is no other guy. (Even so, Blackboard upped its R&D expenditures 42% year over year -- still less than the rate of sales growth -- to keep its services so cutting-edge that it's unlikely another guy will emerge.)
Lesson No. 2
You also don't have to advertise as much. When you're the only game in town, your name becomes synonymous with the service you provide. In evidence of which, advertising costs at Blackboard only needed to rise 20% to generate the 47% increase in sales mentioned above.
Lesson No. 3
There's no need to coddle your customers when they've got little choice but to pay you if they want the service. In illustration of which, Blackboard drove down its accounts receivable an incredible 23% year over year, simply unheard of in a firm growing sales at twice that rate.
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