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Can VeriFone Continue to PAY in 2014?


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Any diehard sports fan will remind you that a game is never over until it's over. I don't believe anyone could have predicted the sort of comeback that VeriFone's (PAY) management team was able to manufacture.

After being left for dead due to chronic self-inflicted wounds, VeriFone stock, which reached a 52-week low of $15.34 on June 14, closed out the year with authority - soaring 75% in the last six months of the year. To put into context the deficit with which this company was working, even with that strong second half performance, the stock still closed the year down more than 8%. The question, though, is how much faith does management still deserve?

Having once called the company a disaster in the making, I'm not going to pretend that I'm suddenly the company's biggest fan. It's true that this recent turnaround has been nothing short of impressive. But I'm not ready to say that all of VeriFone's problems are now in the rearview mirror.

So far, Paul Galant, whom the company installed as CEO in September, has been saying all of the right things. Not to mention, he's brought with him considerable amounts of industry experience after having served as head of the Enterprise Payments and Cards units at Citigroup (C).

Unlike ousted CEO Doug Bergeron, Galant seems eager to transform VeriFone's hardware-centric business to more of a software/services oriented model. This is the same sort of market transition that rivals like NCR (NCR) had already adopted, which left VeriFone scrambling to preserve its market share. And to say nothing about the new threats brought upon by likes of Square and the popular GoPayment system from Intuit (INTU).

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