Big things are happening at
( OMTR), but the question for investors is whether even more can be expected of the Web analytics company.
On Monday, Omniture announced a deal with sales force management software developer
. Under the arrangement, Omniture will tie together its online campaign management tool with Salesforce's sales pipeline management platform. As a result, customers can see how different ways of allocating marketing budgets are affecting sales prospects more directly.
The move comes on the heels of an announcement Friday that Omniture would buy online ad-testing company
for $65 million.
Both developments are shrewd moves by the company. But despite its prime positioning in a rapidly growing industry, investors should take Omniture's lofty valuation into account before buying shares. The stock currently trades at about 63 times forward earnings, and has a price-to-earnings-to-growth ratio of 3.5.
Shares of Omniture were recently off 82 cents, or 3.3%, to $23.71.
Even a fast-growth but speculative play like China's
trades at just 58 times forward earnings and commands a PEG ratio of 1.83, by comparison. Baidu also has a market cap about five times the size of Omniture's roughly $1.3 billion, suggesting it could be a more stable company.
So while Ominture may be a worthwhile consideration for the high-risk, high-reward part of a portfolio, investors should understand that buying at these levels is a risky bet.
That said, Omniture seems to be making all the right moves. Its arrangement with Salesforce will give advertisers exactly what they're looking for: an insight into how the famously fuzzy domain of marketing spending actually affects the bottom line.
And rather than biting off more than it can chew, Omniture is wisely choosing to focus on the business-to-business sector with the new offering. According to the Direct Marketing Association, businesses spend $77 billion each year on marketing to each other.
Despite the big spending, however, customers say they often remain in the dark about the results they are getting, says Ominture Senior Vice President of Marketing Gail Ennis.
By choosing to exclude consumer marketing spending, Ominture should be better able to tailor its product to a set of advertisers with similar needs. But the large sums spent on the category means that businesses have more than enough incentive to pony up for the service.
Omniture's purchase of Offermatica should also be commended by investors. Offermatica makes ad-testing tools that let advertisers understand ahead of time which ads and modifications to their Web sites would be more appealing to users. The move will help Omniture bolster its top-shelf Web analytics services.
"Offermatica's testing solution further expands Omniture's reach into the burgeoning site-optimization and behavioral-targeting market segments," Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Derek Brown wrote in a note to clients on Monday. "Moreover, it seems to be a powerful complement to Omniture's core Web analytics offering, helping end-users increase revenue, conversion, and/or profit by improving site-side content, design, and/or pricing strategies."
While the recent moves are good in and of themselves, they also reflect well on the savvy of CEO Josh James, whose relative lack of experience -- he's still in his mid-30s -- has been a point of concern for Wall Street.
But if recent developments are any indication, James understands the Internet much better than many of the more seasoned executives Wall Street favors. No one looked the part of blue-chip corporate head more than Terry Semel, the recently replaced CEO of
, for example. As his haphazard departure from the top spot shows, gray hair doesn't always mean management acumen.
James may be as good a candidate as there is to help use his company's coveted position online to find new angles for aggressive growth. Given Omniture's steep valuation, it seems investors will accept no less.