For all of you looking for some positive news, read on. Really. We're not kidding this time.
Despite the miserable performance and outlook for software companies,
says it's doing just fine, thank you very much. The company's stock has jumped 52% over the past two days after it said Wednesday evening that, yes, it would make its numbers for the March quarter.
Not revised estimates. Not lower-than-expected earnings. But numbers that are in line. For the quarter, the company said it expects to report earnings of 16 cents a share on revenue of $170 million. Wall Street analysts are expecting 16 cents a share on $168.8 million in revenue, according to
Friday, the stock closed up $2.47, or 13%, to $21.53.
So what does this San Diego-based company that makes software to help manage a firm's existing assets know that the rest of software doesn't? How did these guys manage to close deals when those hotshots at
( ITWO) and
The answer might be because they've had to do it all along.
Peregrine, which despite its two-day run-up is still trading at just 27 times its forward 12-month earnings estimates, has always had to show customers how its software saves them money. (By comparison, i2 still trades at nearly 60 times its forward 12-month earnings.) And that's the tune every CEO wants to hear right now.
"They've always had to sell it on an ROI
return on investment basis," says Patrick Mason, an analyst at
who rates the stock a strong buy. "If you look at someone like
( SEBL), they had to change their focus from 'We've got
customer relationship software and you know you need it and we'll sell it to you' to 'This is how it will save you money.' Peregrine didn't have to do that." (His firm hasn't done underwriting for the company.)
The reason why, analysts say, is because Peregrine's offerings show companies how to make do with what they already have instead of going out and buying more. For instance, the company's asset management software can be loaded with a full inventory of everything that a company owns. If a new employee is hired, the firm can easily check whether it already has a computer the worker can use, instead of just going out and buying a new one.
Of course, the skeptical investor -- and hey, who's
skeptical these days -- will wonder why the company is cheap in the first place. Well, in year 2000, the company bought
, a firm that concentrated in the seemingly antiquated area of electronic data interchange, or EDI, software. When Peregrine bought Harbinger, people saw EDI heading toward extinction, and investors feared the purchase might take Peregrine down with it.
"They took an awful lot of grief for that deal," says Brad Reback, an analyst at underwriter
CIBC World Markets
who rates the stock a strong buy. "I think the expectation was that the market would move away from EDI much faster than it did."
But Peregrine souped up the technology it got from Harbinger to operate in a more Internet-friendly way. That means companies that bought expensive EDI systems don't need to chuck them out the window to use Peregrine's products, an added selling point.
This quarter's good news from Peregrine isn't just a flash in the pan, either. It follows the company's
good gains during the fourth quarter, when things had already started getting tough for software companies. At that time, Peregrine CEO Steve Gardner told
why his firm's broad software offerings were helping it through the tough economy. It has software that helps companies do things quickly when times are good and more efficiently when times get tight.
Of course, none of that will likely stop Peregrine from getting hurt should the economy take up a permanent berth next to the
man's skiff. After all, if technology-spending budgets clamp down completely, no one will be able to hide.
"Their risks are similar to other software companies out there," says CIBC's Reback. "If the economy continues to weaken and soften, they will be impacted like everyone else. That said, they've done a great job holding the pipeline together and closing deals so far."
There was also one piece missing from the Peregrine news: guidance for its future financial periods. Right now, analysts expect Peregrine to have revenue of $821 million over the next twelve months. Should the company take that guidance down when it reports official results April 26 -- and analysts say it might, just to be safe -- that could have an adverse effect on the stock, especially given its recent goosing.
Still, these guys are delivering on target when very few software companies can.
"Their prospects look healthier than any of the other companies, on a relative basis," says Wit SoundView's Mason. "If you had to put your money in a software company, Peregrine is arguably a good place to put it."