Friday, April 29, 2016

Lexmark ES Q1 Numbers Disturbing

For those of you that haven't done the math for yourselves, Lexmark Enterprise Software (ES) saw about a 15% decline in revenue for Q1, YOY. Yes, we realize Lexmark reported 60% growth for ES on revenue of $143 million, but last year's Q1 didn't include Kofax's numbers. In calendar Q1 last year (Kofax's fiscal Q3), the ISV did $75 million in revenue, and it also acquired a $9 million a year business in Aia Software towards the end of the quarter. So, we'll put Kofax's Q1 2015 revenue at around $77 million.

In the meantime, Perceptive Software, operating as a division of Lexmark, reported $90 million for the first quarter of 2015. If you put those two figures together, it gives you a Q1 2015 revenue number of $167 million, $24 million more than the two combined businesses reported this year for Q1 as parts of Lexmark ES. We don't have any insight into the breakdown of the Lexmark ES in numbers - in particular, how much was from generated in software sales, but we had heard rumors that Lexmark was struggling in that area in particular.

The 15% erosion in revenue is disturbing, and we hope it is not indicative of the industry's direction. We realize Lexmark has been struggling with integration issues, as well as uncertainty related to the recent sale of the company, so maybe the first quarter was an anomaly and the organization will bounce back strongly. That said, Lexmark's competitors are certainly trying to keep the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) levels pumped up, as I heard a lot of talk at the recent AIIM Conference related to the potential challenges of being owned by a group of investors from China.

In addition to Lexmark, Open Text failed to show organic growth in Q1 (its fiscal Q3), EMC's Enterprise Content Division (ECD) revenue continued to shrink, down to $134 million in Q1 2016 from $138 million in Q1 2015 (not to mention the fact that EMC is reportedly trying to sell ECD to help fund the Dell acquisition), and Top Image Systems (TIS) struggled in Q4 '15 with its Q1 2016 numbers still to come. It has not been all bleak news, as smaller companies like DocuWare and M-Files reported strong growth for 2015, and Hyland Software had another strong year as well.

What is somewhat interesting is that DocuWare, M-Files, and to some extent Hyland, are focused on the SMB space (Hyland stressing the "M"), while EMC, Kofax, and to some extent ReadSoft (also part of Lexmark ES) and Open Text are more focused on the enterprise space. So, maybe the growth in the ECM market is in the traditionally underserved SMB space (as we've been predicting would happen for years). This would certainly bode well for TIS, which recently put a stronger focus on shopping financial process automation to the mid-market.  Then again, the Perceptive Software's content management business is a major part of Lexmark ES and it focuses on the mid-market (we're really not sure how the individual components within the division made out).

When you add these recent ECM software struggles to the steady erosion we've seen in margins in the document scanner hardware market (as well as some of the reogranization at the leaders ), it makes us doubt the future of our industry. That said, the attitude at this week's AIIM Conference in New Orleans was not wholly pessimistic. There were plenty of optimistic vendors, a bevy of end users looking for solutions, and the usual group of energetic and imaginative people that combine to make our industry so exciting at times. New solutions stressing, the cloud, mobile, and emerging technology like natural language processing - as well as a new vision embracing enterprise content as data and thus creating a bridge for mainstream IT crossover, certainly created plenty of positive buzz at the AIIM event (or was that just the alcohol on Bourbon Street?). We'll have more details on what we learned at AIIM in the next issue of DIR.

In the meantime, let's hope for a stronger Q2 for everyone (well, except for your competitors in some cases, I guess.)




Thursday, April 14, 2016

Management Changes at Kodak Alaris IM

Word came out yesterday that Kodak Alaris Information Management has changed its management structure. C├íssio Vaquero, who had been serving as regional director of emerging markets (Asia-Pacific and Latin America) has apparently been appointed to a new head of global sales position. In conjunction with that, Martin Birch, Kodak Alaris' IM's regional manager for the US&C, and Erwin Schwarzl, regional manager for EAMER, have been let go. 

Here's a quote from Kodak Alaris on the shake up: "With the global integration of key business functions, including sales, within IM, we are transitioning to a new worldwide operational model. We thank Martin and Erwin for their contributions and wish them well in the future as we continue to help our customers grow their business using Kodak Alaris scanners, software and services."

The move is a bit surprising as Birch and Schwarzl have only been in their current positions for about a year. Last April, Birch, who was serving as regional director for EAMER, moved to the U.S. to take over for Russell Hunt, who retired. Schwarzl had been serving in another capacity at Kodak Alaris. Both Birch and Schwarzl worked at Kodak (and then Kodak Alaris) for several years.

These moves are part of a tumultuous few months at Kodak Alaris IM, which has also included some changes within its AI Foundry intelligent document recognition (IDR) software business.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lasefiche EMPOWER Event Continues to Grow

LONG BEACH, CA – It was good to return to the Laserfiche EMPOWER Conference this year after a three-year hiatus. Last time I had the opportunity to attend was 2012. I had planned to go in 2013, but a snowstorm changed that. 

Since that 2012 event, I haven't really had a chance to connect with the Laserfiche executive team. And there have been big changes to that team over that time. In 2013, Tom Wayman, VP of marketing and product strategy, died. The next year, his mother and company founder and CEO Nien-Ling Wacker passed away. (Both had awards named after them that were presented at this year's conference.) Nien-Ling's husband Chris Wacker has taken over as CEO, with CTO Karl Chan having added president to his title. In 2014, Laserfiche named Thomas Phelps IV as its VP of corporate strategy and marketing.

During the last few years, Laserfiche has continued to grow. For the 2012 conference, which was held at the Anaheim Marriott, I reported 1,600 people attended. For this year's event, which was moved to the Long Beach Convention Center (a much bigger venue), Laserfiche announced 2,700 attendees. Chris Wacker also told me the company enjoyed 10-12%  revenue growth in 2015 over 2014, which was also a growth year.

Overall, 880 organizations were represented at EMPOWER. This included a mix of end users, resellers, and vendor partners. The big announcement was the release of Laserfiche 10, which features improvements in collaborative and mobile capabilities, as well as the introduction of a library of more than 100 pre-built workflows across several vertical markets and horizontal applications. New analytics tools for BPM were also introduced.
A few things that have not changed in the four years since I last attended EMPOWER:
  1. Laserfiche remains very strong in state and local government market.
  2. There is still a big push toward getting many of these government customers to expand their implementations enterprise wide. It seems to be working. For example, I attended a presentation by the City of Boca Raton, which has expanded its implementation from the clerk's office to the A/P department and now has 50 more projects either currently being implemented or that have been requested. Many of the attendees I spoke with were considering similar (if not quite as big) expansions.
  3. Epson is still the event's premier sponsor, although Epson's scanner business has grown considerably since 2012. According to Mark Pickard, senior product manager, Document Scanners, Epson America (citing numbers from the NPD group) through the first 11 months of 2015, the company's revenue from commercial scanners grew 24% over 2014, which was twice as fast as Epson's nearest competitor. He credited Epson's relationship with Laserfiche and its channel as contributing to that growth.
We'll have more detailed coverage of the event in our next newsletter, but that's a quick summary for you.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lexmark Apparently for Sale

Today, Lexmark announced that its Board of Directors has "authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value." After the announcement was made, Lexmark's stock rose more than 6% (as of this posting), lifting the company's market cap to $2.1B. This is not that great of a valuation for a company that bills itself as a "$3.7B global technology company that includes a $1.5B Higher Value Solutions business comprised of Enterprise Software (ES) and Managed Print Services (MPS)."

That Enterprise Software business, of course, includes Perceptive, Kofax, ReadSoft, Brainware, and some other ECM-focused companies that have been rolled up since 2010. Most recently, Lexmark acquired Kofax for $1B in a somewhat surprising deal. It followed up by appointing Kofax CEO Reynolds Bish as president of Lexmark ES, which has about a $700M annual run rate.

Unfortunately, investors were less than thrilled with the guidance Lexmark presented for its overall business in conjunction with its Q2 earnings report, which dropped the company's valuation by 20% on a single day in July. Although the stock has bounced back slightly over the past few weeks (including today), it is still trading at more than 25% below its July peak.

Lexmark has made a concerted effort to shift its business from hardware-centric to a software and services focus, stressing its growing ES and MPS revenue. Unfortunately, it appears that investors are still valuing the company based on its declining hardware and supplies revenue. Stated Jean-Paul Montupet, lead director of the Lexmark Board of Directors, in relation to this, "We are extremely proud of what the Lexmark management team and employees have accomplished in the transformation of Lexmark. While the Board is encouraged by the company's future prospects, the Board does not believe Lexmark's current share price fully reflects the intrinsic value created by the company, and the Board has concluded it is appropriate to explore strategic alternatives as the next step to unlock this value."

What specifically those strategic alternatives are is not mentioned, but speculation is that the company could be sold either to a private equity company or another high-tech company. HP, which had long been discussed as a possible landing point for Kofax and has a partnership history with Lexmark, is one possible buyer. However, to me, a private equity buyout at this point would seem to make more sense. After all, less than six months ago, Lexmark paid $1B to pick up Kofax, so selling the whole company to someone else for anything close to its current market valuation would seem unlikely. After all, Kofax was a $300M-plus company and Lexmark is a $3B-plus company. The math just doesn't make good sense.

What makes more sense is to take the company private, which would conceivably enable those who agree with Lexmark's management's transformative vision to stay on board as investors. The company would then be able to work on really affecting the changes it wants to without the worry of meeting quarterly numbers - which are going to be very hard to meet as the formerly hardware-driven company de-emphasizes hardware. When the transformation is complete, and Lexmark is operating as primarily a software and services business, it can then go public again, conceivably with a more favorable valuation.

At least that's the way I see it shaking out.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

German Start-Up Developing Unit for Smartphone Scanning

Here's a preview of an article that scheduled to run in tomorrow's (Oct. 16) edition of DIR:

scanPAD is a German startup that has created a new apparatus designed to enable smartphones to act as document scanners, mini photo studios, and even overhead projectors. According to a press sheet, the scanPAD leverages patent-pending nanotechnology to hold and stabilize smartphones, as well as documents. Shaped like a desklamp (see image), the scanPAD holds a smartphone in place above whatever the user is trying to capture. 


For documents, the base of the scanPAD has a microsuction surface designed to not only hold documents, but also smooth and flatten them. It is designed to work with whatever document capture app a user has installed on their phone. The reverse side of the microsuction pad features a bluescreen that enables users to take pictures with a transparent/replaceable background. The device can also be used to give video presentations utilizing printed pages or whiteboards.  

The scanPAD carries a retail list price of 249 Euros, or about $283US. There is a Kickstarter campaign underway, with a goal of raising $113,000 over the next two months. As of mid-day yesterday, 40 backers had pledged $6,500. Pledges of a certain amount get the pledger a discounted scanPAD in return. Manufacturing is scheduled to begin in Germany in January with units to begin shipping in February. 

I believe this is the third device we have covered in DIR designed to hold a smartphone to create higher quality scans. The last one was the Scandock from Atiz, a company headed by former Apprentice finalist Nick Warnock. Atiz’s Scandock lists for slightly more than the scanPAD but also offers a lighting system and software designed to ensure high-quality color images are produced. 

Added for blog: Would it make sense for someone to create an ADF version of this type of scanner? Along those lines how fast could you capture images, say, leveraging the video camera within a smartphone or tablet? Could you do it ibml fast if you had the right transport? Just some food for thought.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Aggressive Cost Cutting in Store for Lexmark Enterprise Software

Lexmark reported its Q2 2015 earnings today. Overall, Lexmark reported $891M in non-GAAP revenue and $139M in earnings. Apparently, Wall Street traders were not impressed with these numbers along with lowered earnings forecasts, as Lexmark shares were down more than 20% in early trading. I don't pretend the understand the complete dynamics of Lexmark's business, but I do follow its Enterprise Software division fairly closely, and this was the first quarter it reported that includes any revenue and income from Lexmark's Kofax acquisition, which closed on May 21.

For Q2, Lexmark reported $150M in total Enterprise Software revenue, with margins of 20%. On the surface, this looks great, considering that Lexmark's Enterprise Software margins for 2014 were around 5%. But, if you look closely, the Kofax Q2 operating margins are listed at 42.6%, which has something to do with the timing of the acquisition. Apparently, some Kofax operating expenses in areas like IT, finance, HR, facilities, and legal and corporate staffing were charged to "All Other," instead of Enterprise Software.

"The software segment benefited from the timing of the Kofax closing which coincided with the most profitable portion of what is traditionally Kofax’s strongest quarter," explained David Reeder, VP and CFO, of Lexmark in an analyst call. "Kofax added $48 million of revenue and $20 million of operating income to second quarter results." (Quotes are from the Seeking Alpha transcript of the analyst call.)

When you take Kofax out, Enterprise Software reported operating margins of 9.8%, which is not great, but is an improvement over what we've seen historically from the Enterprise Software group. And, of course, we all know that Lexmark has set a goal of exiting 2016 with 25% operating margins for Enterprise Software. So, how does it get there?

In conjunction with today's quarterly financials report, Lexmark announced plans to eliminate about 500 positions. "We are announcing a restructuring action today, the vast majority of which reflects the cost synergies targeted for the ReadSoft and Kofax integrations," announced Chairman and CEO Paul Rooke. "In total, we’re eliminating about 500 positions worldwide, primarily across the G&A, marketing, and development organizations with about one-third of the impacted positions being shifted to lower cost countries, and we expect to complete these actions by the end of 2016. Financially, these actions are expected to generate annualized savings of about $65 million in 2017, the vast majority of which will benefit the Enterprise Software segment."

Basically, it sounds like Lexmark is expecting to save more than $33M in operating expenses annually in Enterprise Software - as well as grow the division due to "revenue synergies." When you do all the math, this should work out to 15% operating margins for 2015 and 25% by the time 2016 ends.

Obviously, there are going to be some challenges growing Enterprise Software while simultaneously reducing headcount, but Lexmark at least has a vision to try and executive on. I feel badly that it sounds like many people in our industry are going to lose their jobs as part of this vision, but as document imaging and ECM gets subsumed into more general IT and larger organizations, this type of evolution is inevitable.

Now, I'm not saying Lexmark is guaranteed to succeed at what it has set out to do, specifically in terms of margins and more broadly in terms of transforming from a hardware player to establishing itself as a leader in the ECM space. But, I will say it's definitely worth watching - and I'm sure most of its competitors are. Lexmark is clearly betting big here. We should know the results of those bets in another couple years at the latest.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bish Appointed President of Lexmark Enterprise Software

You can't accuse Lexmark of being predictable and boring. Almost two months after announcing its surprise $1B bid for document capture market leader Kofax, today, Lexmark not only announced it had closed the deal, but that Kofax CEO Reynolds Bish was taking over as president of Lexmark Enterprise Software.
Most people in the industry had assumed that Bish, who has hired by Kofax in 2007 to drive up its valuation and sell the company, had successfully completed his mission and would move on.

Instead, we have Bish taking over for Scott Coons, who was basically the founder of Perceptive Software -  the rock on which Lexmark Enterprise Software was built. Lexmark acquired Perceptive in 2010 and followed that with several other software acquisitions all rolled up under the Perceptive flag. The result was a software business with run rate of approximately $350M, prior to the acquisition of Kofax, which now doubles the size of that business. The curveball, however, is that Coons, who is some 15 years Bish's junior, is taking his retirement while Bish takes the reins of Lexmark Enterprise software (which is what Perceptive was renamed earlier this year).

The said, Bish's appointment really makes perfect sense. When you add together the revenue of Kofax, ReadSoft (which Lexmark acquired last year) and the former Brainware (now Perceptive Intelligent Capture), capture now makes up at least $450M of Lexmark Enterprise Software's projected annual run rate of $700M. And who better to run a $450M capture software business than Bish?

In addition, for the past couple years at least, Bish's vision has been wider than capture. He executed a series of acquisitions while at Kofax to help transition the company into the emerging smart process application (SPA) space. In many ways, the portfolio that Kofax adds with Lexmark, will further beef up its SPA play. But the bottom line is that, as reflected in its name, Lexmark is striving to be an "enterprise software" company and that has also been Kofax's goal since Bish took over.  Bish put a lot of infrastructure and strategies in place to execute on this goal and will now be able to carry them over into Perceptive.

One other thing, as Lexmark Enterprise Software moves to reach its goal of a 25% operating income margin by 2016 (from approximately 10% at the end 2014 for the combined Kofax and Perceptive businesses), there are certainly some personnel cuts that are going to have to be made. Technically coming in from the outside may make this easier for Bish to do than Coons, who to date had been operating Perceptive on fairly low margins in part due to Lexmark's laissez-faire approach to software.

Not that Coons was doing a bad job. In fact, when Lexmark first acquired Perceptive, it promised it would let Coons run the software business without interference and to date, Coons noted in a call with DIR, Lexmark has done a great job of keeping its promises. This hands-off approach really enabled Lexmark to establish itself as a major ECM player - which many doubted it could do.

Coons told us he was flat out ready to retire after 20 years in a very competitive market and that he supported Bish as the man to succeed him. Bish is certainly no stranger to personnel turnover, as he was an agent of change when he took over Kofax in 2007 and helped mold it into a true enterprise software vendor. As a result, Bish is probably the best man for the job now that it is time to do some remolding at Lexmark Enterprise Software as well.

Congratulations Reynolds on your new appointment and Scott, best wishes in  your retirement!