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!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Xerox CFO Comments Seem to Rule Out Kofax Bid

Xerox recently adjusted its outlook for 2015 in the wake of fairly weak Q1 results. But, the big news for our readers may be Xerox CFO Kathryn Mikells' comments on the company's acquisition goals. Mikells told Reuters: "We're expecting to do up to $900 million in acquisitions this year and early next year." This would seem to rule out a bid for Kofax, for which Lexmark has already bid $1B.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Kruchten to Depart Kodak Alaris

Dolores Kructhen, who has served as president of Kodak Alaris Document Imaging - DI (recently renamed Information Management- IM), since it was launched in 2013, is leaving the company at the end of May. Here's the official statement from Kodak Alaris:

"Dolores Kruchten, President of the Information Management division, has decided to leave Kodak Alaris at the end of May. All of us at Kodak Alaris thank Dolores for her contributions over the years and wish her all the very best for the future. We are actively recruiting – in the interim, Ralf Gerbershagen and Jeff Goodman will work closely with the existing Information Management Executive leadership team to ensure a smooth transition."

Kruchten started with Kodak  in 1981. She held numerous positions at Kodak Document Imaging, including running the hardware service business for Kodak Graphic Communications before taking over as GM of DI in 2007. Kruchten oversaw that transition of DI from a division of Eastman Kodak to one of the two principal divisions of Kodak Alaris - which were spun off as part of Eastman Kodak's bankruptcy proceedings.

The DI business struggled with uncertainty in 2012 and most of 2013, before bouncing back with a strong year for scanner sales in 2014. Like many hardware vendors, it is attempting to move towards more of a solutions approach and has added more software to its portfolio. Last week, DIR ran a story on Russell Hunt's retirement as Regional GM of the US&C for DI/IM. He is being replaced by Martin Birch, who had previously served as regional GM for EMEA at DI/IM.




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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Xerox Leaves Door Open for Kofax Bid

Here's the statement I received from Xerox after asking for a comment on Lexmark's $1B bid to acquire Kofax: "While we cannot comment on Lexmark’s decision to acquire Kofax, we can say that today we are more confident than ever in our capability to deliver outstanding Next Generation Managed Print Services, Document Outsourcing and workflow to our customers and prospects. If and when the transaction is completed, we will re-evaluate our strategic partnership with Kofax.  In the meantime, we will continue to maintain our partnership with them to support  existing customer engagements where Kofax has been adopted. We are committed to open standards and when customers choose Xerox and another partner or competitor, we will work diligently to ensure that their environment works flawlessly."

Sounds to me like their might be conversations brewing within Xerox to make a higher bid, as I don't know what else could prevent the transaction from being completed. The "if and when" certainly makes it sound like Xerox is not considering this a done deal. If the deal is completed, it also certainly sounds like Xerox will be moving on from Kofax.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Dialogue with Xamcor's Paul Carman on Lexmark-Kofax Deal

The following is a correspondence between Ralph Gammon, the editor of the Document Imaging Report, and Paul Carman, President and CEO of Xamcor, discussing what this deal means to the companies involved, as well as the industry as a whole.

Ralph Gammon of DIR: So, no surprise that an MFP vendor has announced plans to acquire Kofax. What is surprising is that it was Lexmark, instead of Xerox.

Paul Carman of Xamcor: I agree. Of course, it’s no surprise that Lexmark made another software acquisition , as they have been very active in building their software capabilities. However, Kofax does come as a bit of a surprise. With Brainware, an earlier acquisition, and then ReadSoft closing some months ago, the capture space didn’t seem to be the next logical area of opportunity.

To read the rest, please click through to the Xamcor site

Part II of the interview, in which we discuss if there is any merit to a shareholder rights-focused law firm filing a complaint against Kofax for not maximizing shareholder value.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lexmark Attempting To Corner the Market on Capture

Wow. That really caught me by surprise. About 4:30 today it was announced that Lexmark was acquiring Kofax for $1B net of cash. I was just finishing up my Kofax Transform conference story and about to start writing my piece about how Xerox was going to integrate the Kofax technology into its organization. It really made a compelling story. And the rumor circulating around AIIM last week, was the the Xerox-Kofax deal was going to close any day...Then I heard something about Kofax asking for too much, and the next thing I know Lexmark announced it had made a bid of $11 per share, or about a 47% premium over what the Kofax stock was trading at today. It's also more than 3x Kofax's 2014 reported non-GAAP reported revenue of $297M -so from that perspective it's not a bad deal.

There is a lot to like about this deal from Perceptive's standpoint. It's latest and most aggressive move in an already aggressive ECM software strategy. That said, there is certainly some overlap with the recent ReadSoft acquisition, as well as its previous Brainware acquisition. But, if you are going to transition from a hardware to a software vendor, you might as well go hard.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Xerox make a counter offer, but if $1B was already too rich for their blood. But still, if I was Xerox, I would be looking to find some money somewhere, because they really were planning on investing a lot in this partnership and now Kofax is in danger of being taken off the market by a competitor. Exciting times.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ephesoft's Vision for the Future of IDR

Coming out of AIIM last year I had come up with a vision on the potential future of the document imaging industry. I've repeated the mantra several times since - and it goes like this: "Capture it all and let the technology sort it out."

In fact, I recently completed a piece for Quality Associates' upcoming Insights newsletter detailing what I see as some of the driving forces behind this vision. They include trends like increased multi-channel capture and increasing intelligence in capture driven by emerging technology like natural language processing.

This year I attended the Ephesoft Innovate conference  prior to heading down to San Diego for AIIM 2015. At Innovate, Ephesoft founder and CTO Ike Kavas presented on his vision for the future - which I thought dovetailed nicely with mine. Kavas and his team at Ephesoft have even gone so far as to developing a brand new product - Ephesoft Universe - designed to enable organizations to mine their documents.

Due for release later this year, Universe leverages Big Data tools like Hadoop. According to Kavas, Universe is able to leverage 16 different characteristics to classify a document and recognize a field. Ephesoft is developing machine learning algorithms to consider these characteristics. The bottom line is that this is a lot of data being put through a process that requires a lot of computing power - hence the need for the Big Data tools, especially if a user is throwing a high-volume of documents at it.

The end game for Universe is trying to reduce the time it takes to implement a classification and extraction application from months to minutes. Also, the idea is to enable individual users (not system admins) to set up personalized auto-classification and extraction applications.

Kavas was brave enough to show a demo of Universe, which he expects to be released, in Version 1.0, later this spring. Basically, a user creates their own document classes, feeds it examples, and chooses and labels which fields it wants to extract based on the highlighted fields that Universe was able to recognize. Once the data is extracted, it is fed into an analytics application that is also built into Universe. An example Kavas showed utilized hot/cold zone graphing to show the average price of houses in different states in the country.

Other potential application ideas tossed about included mining medical records for various reasons including enforcing records retention policies, mining expense reports to enable more informed negotiations with vendors, and examining financial documents for at-risk loans or security risks.

There is a lot here, and I'll have more detail in my next premium issue of DIR. Ephesoft's current goal is to find some customers and partners to help it determine what needs to be done next on the road to productizing Universe. But, there is clearly a lot of potential, mainly because it offers to make accessible what has historically been very high-end technology, whose adoption has been slowed somewhat I feel by paralysis by overanalysis.  If Ephesoft can really make Universe a universal tool, I think we'll start to see a slew of new IDR applications developed on top of it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Recent Quarterly Financials Show Signs of Maturing Market

As I mentioned in the latest issue of our premium publication, over the past two weeks, a number of document imaging software vendors released their numbers for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2014. I would have liked to cover some of these numbers in the newsletter, but since all the information is publicly available anyhow, I bumped it for some original content. Anyhow, here are some of the highlights I pulled off of news releases, presentations, and transcripts of analyst calls:

Lemark/Perceptive Software
  • For Q4, Lexmark reported Perceptive Software revenue of $99M, which represented 37% YoY growth. 
  • For FY14, Lexmark reported Perceptive Software revenue of $313M or 31% growth. 
  • That sounds great, until you get to the fine print where it says, "Perceptive Software organic growth of -10% for Q4, excludes acquisitions completed in the past four quarters. Perceptive Software organic growth of -3% for the full year 2014. (ReadSoft and its $100M of annual revenue was the big acquisition).
  • In the analyst conference call, CFO and VP David Reeder said Perceptive revenue was negatively affected by "large deal timing and a shift from perpetual license to subscription sales."
  • Perceptive did, however, manage an operating income of $11M in Q4, up considerably from 2013's $2M income for Q4, and up $3M from Q3. The fourth quarter boosted Perceptive's operating income for the year to $14M - a $16M improvement from the previous year.
  • Commented CEO Paul Rooke, "We also expect continued growth and margin expansion in Perceptive Software as we strengthen our solutions offerings, factor in a full year of the cost and expense reductions taken in the second half of 2014, optimize maintenance pricing, and execute the expected cost synergies with the integration of ReadSoft."
  • Rooke also commented that he felt Perceptive was on target for hitting Lexmark's 2016 goals of $500M in annual revenue and 25% operating margins. "Perceptive Software revenue and operating income continued to make steady progress to our 2016 revenue and operating margin targets. We are quite pleased with the trajectory of the business as revenue and operating margin grew year-over-year and sequentially."
Kofax
  • As pre-reported, Kofax showed growth in both its software license sales and total revenue for its FY15 Q2.
  • However, the net total revenue growth was only $4M, the bulk of which could theoretically be attributed last fall's acquisition of SoftPro last fall, which had reported $13M of revenue for 2013. So, like Perceptive, Kofax really didn't see much organic growth in the quarter.
  • Unlike Lexmark, Kofax can't blame the slowed growth on a switch to more subscription sales. When asked about recurring revenue during the analyst conference call, Bish estimated that 90% of Kofax's was coming from maintenance and only 10%, from what he called "term" licenses, which I assume means subscriptions, with most of the term licenses coming from Kapow, which primarily followed a subscription model when Kofax acquired it.
  • Bish also said that going forward, Kofax will no longer differentiate between "core capture" sales and sales from "mobile and new or acquired products." In the call with analysts, he explained, "Software license revenue from core capture products declined year-over-year in both the second quarter and six months ended Dec. 31, 2014, but at a lower rate in the second quarter than the first quarter. These declines were primarily driven by customers increasingly choosing to purchase Kofax TotalAgility and solutions built on that platform as well as our mobile capture, Web capture, and electronic content transformation products rather than our legacy Kofax Capture and Kofax Transformation Modules products.

    "The capture market is not in a state of decline nor is Kofax losing market share. Rather, we are undergoing a rather dramatic shift in buying preferences from our legacy capture software products to our mobile and new or acquired products.

    "As a result of the complexity of these issues discussed above and the challenges associated with accurately calculating Kofax's multi-channel capture revenues, we will no longer report core capture revenues or attempt to report multi-channel capture revenues. Instead, we will only report total software license revenue.
     
  • Kofax's profitability was way up compared to its FY15 Q1 with its operating margins coming in at 17.7% for Q2, compared to just 6.3% in Q1.
     
  • Subsequent to its earnings release, Kofax announced that its shareholders voted in favor of a plan to delist the company's shares from the LSE, so they would be listed exclusively on the Nasdaq. Plans to carry out that motion are underway.
     
  • The deslisting was one of four matters voted on by the shareholders, with all being approved except for a call to change the company by-laws to make them more "customary for a Bermudian company with shares only listed on NASDAQ." It sounds like the Kofax board would still like to get that proposal passed.
Nuance
  • Nuance reported Document Imaging revenue for its FY15 Q1 of $60.1M, a slight increase over its FY14 Q1 revenue of $58.3M, but it's important to note that the previous year's Nuance's revenue did not include Notable Solutions, Inc. which was acquired this summer.
  • Most likely buoyed by NSi sales, had had a very strong FY14 Q4.
EMC
  • EMC's reported its 2014 Q4 revenue for its Information Intelligence Group (IIG), which includes Documentum and Captiva, as $174M, which represented an 8% YOY drop. For the year, IIG's revenue was $640M, which represented only a 1% drop.
  • Also, at its recent sales meeting for the group, EMC announced it has changed the name from IIG to the Enterprise Content Division (ECD).
So there you have it. A brief analysis would tell you that there wasn't a lot of organic growth in the past quarter among these market leaders, which is not a good sign. Profitability on the other hand was up. Add these two trends together, and it seems like we now have a fairly mature market.

All quotes from analyst calls were transcripts compiled by Seeking Alpha.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Xerox Signs on As Kofax Reseller

Today Kofax announced that it has signed a global partnership with Xerox. Under the terms of the agreement, "Xerox will sell, market, deploy and support Kofax TotalAgility," with support from Kofax sales and services staff. Kofax TA represents its integrated line of products including capture, BPM, analytics, e-signature and data integration technologies.

Couple interesting points about this:
  • The Xerox executive quoted in the press release talks about Kofax TA being part of Xerox' next-generation MPS offering. The concept of MFP/printer vendors moving more deeply into ECM was factored into our recent 2015 DIR prediction that there will be a major ECM/Capture acquisition by any MFP vendor in 2015.
  • Somewhat along those lines, Hyland Software also recently announced a new global partnership with Xerox. Can we connect some dots here?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

TIS Meets 4th Quarter Expectations

A day after Kofax reported a rebound for its fiscal '15 Q2, capture competitor Top Image Systems (TIS) has reported that it met its guidance for the fourth quarter - at least in terms of local currencies. Like Kofax, TIS does quite a bit of business outside the U.S. but reports its financials in U.S. Dollars, as its stock is traded on the Nasdaq. According to the TIS press release, "The Company anticipates the significant devaluation of the Euro, as well as of the British Pound and leading Asia Pacific and Latin American currencies, to impact its reporting in U.S. dollars."

For those of you keeping score, when TIS announced its Q3 results, which were impacted by its recent acquisition of eGistics, it projected its Q4 "revenues will range between $10.5 million and $11.5 million and expenses will range between $9.3 million to $9.7 million."

TIS also announced today that it expects to be profitable in all four quarters of 2015.

TIS plans to announce full, audited Q4 and year-end results in early March.

Kofax Q2 Numbers Look Strong

Kofax appears to have had a fairly strong second fiscal quarter for 2015 (ended Dec. 31), based on the selected preliminary results it reported yesterday. Kofax pre-reported non-GAAP software license revenue of $34M-$35M, total revenue of $80-82 and an adjusted EBITDA of $13.7 to $14.7M.  This represents about a 6% growth in software license revenue over the numbers Kofax reported for its fiscal Q2 2014, and about a 5% growth in total revenue. EBITDA, which had been down severely in Kofax's Q1, increased YOY by 7-8%, to $13.7M-$14.7M, which represented about a 3x sequential quarter increase.

Kofax CEO Reynolds Bish said the numbers could have been better if not for worldwide currency exchange decline vs. the U.S. Dollar. In the press release he said, "Given the large amount of our software license revenue and total revenues arising in Euros, British Pounds, Swiss Francs and other currencies that have weakened against the U.S. dollar, this effect was substantial. On a constant currency basis - using exchange rate levels in the prior year period - software license revenue would have been approximately $1.1 million and total revenues $2.7 million higher."

In the press release, Bish noted that sales of "new of acquired products" showed strong growth and that core capture software sales also improved - as we noted previously, Kofax reported a number of significant capture software deals in November and December. Bish noted that the number of six-figure software deals, an area of focus for the company, also continued to increase.

Full results are due out Jan. 29.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

EPM Sells Service Business to Kodak Alaris

Just about a year after acquiring Imaging 411 in order to launch its own service business Eastman Park Micrographics (EPM) is selling its service business to Kodak Alaris, its biggest competitor. From what I heard, EPM was not entirely happy with the way its court case against Kodak Alaris was going. EPM had sought to bar Kodak Alaris Document Imaging from marketing its service to EPM ImageLink micrographics customers - but after originally receiving a court order that supported this position, that order was reversed.

Previous to EPM's acquisition of Long Island-based imaging service specialist Imaging 411 in December 2013, Kodak Alaris had been the official service provider for ImageLink equipment through a contract with EPM. After EPM acquired Imaging 411, it took over the ImageLink service contracts and attempted to bar Kodak Alaris from competing for them. From what we understand, this strategy was not entirely working out, which prompted EPM to sell its service business to Kodak Alaris.

EPM had previously signed on Kodak Alaris to provide support for its hardware customers in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. EPM Service and Kodak Alaris were competing in North America.

With the acquisition, Kodak Alaris also picks up a competitor for scanner service. Imaging 411, and then EPM, employed several ex-Kodak DI technicians and had aggressively pursued document scanner service contracts.

EPM will now focus on hardware manufacturing, with Crowley doing the sales and marketing, as well as media distribution.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Top News Stories in 2014

 This article originally appeared in our Dec. 19, 2014 premium issue.

What Went Down in 2014

A review of our five biggest news stories/trends in the past year. We’ve listed them in reverse order, like a countdown.

5. Convergence of call center and capture markets: It’s the natural evolution of multi-channel capture to eventually include voice. Conversely, as call centers evolve into contact centers, they are starting to embrace document-centric communication. Then there is everything in between: e-mails, Web sites, text messages, social media, etc., that is somewhat unconquered, and this is where the convergence is starting to occur.

At this year’s Harvey Spencer Associates Capture Conference, customer experience management (CEM) consultant Michael McBrien showed a slide depicting an ideal contact center where social, Web, in-person, phone, and mobile communications were all integrated. When asked if anyone is actually doing this, his answer was no.

That said, from the capture market perspective, we are starting to see these elements come together through initiatives like Kofax’s First Mile SPA (smart process application) strategy [see DIR 3/28/14], Kodak Alaris’ partnership with German IDR/AI specialist ITyX, and even document outsourcing specialist BancTec’s recent merger with Dataforce Group [see DIR 8/22/14]. From the contact center side, it was good to see a respected industry veteran like McBrien show up at the HSA Conference.

4. Kofax misses consecutive quarters: The year started so auspiciously for the Irvine, CA-based capture and SPA vendor. At the annual Transform conference held in March, Kofax was riding four straight quarters of software license and overall growth. In addition, an IPO on the Nasdaq (which was completed in Dec. 2013) was paying off, with Kofax’s market cap soaring to around the $750M mark

Then came Kofax’s fiscal Q4 2014 and Q1 2015. For the quarter ended June 30, Kofax reported a non-IFRS YOY decline in software license revenue of 7.5% and a YOY decline in EBITDA of 38.9%. For the quarter ended Sept. 30, Kofax reported a YOY non-GAAP decline in software license revenue of 3.5% and an adjusted EBITDA decline of 47.8%. For Q1, Kofax’s margin was just 6.3%—when in March CEO Reynolds Bish had set a goal of reaching 20% margins within three years.

In both quarters, Bish blamed the shortfalls on large seven- and high-six-figure “core capture” deals that had slipped into future quarters. After the more recent miss, Bish went so far as to say that Kofax will be putting more focus on its “mobile and new or acquired products,” hoping they will pull through traditional capture sales—and get capture back to “single-digit growth.” “We are now accelerating the reallocation of resources and expenditures into this fast growing part of our business,” said Bish [see DIR 10/10/14].

But then a funny thing started happening. In the past month and a half, since Kofax announced its fiscal Q1 results on Oct. 30, the ISV has issued no less than five press releases touting software deals in the high-six to seven-figure range, mostly focused on automating document capture processes. When you couple this with Kofax’s continuing to increase its number of $100,000 (mostly capture) deals (even during its Q1, the number of six figure deals increased by 33%), maybe the capture market isn’t in as bad of shape as Kofax had thought.

3. Increase in onboard imaging processing (IP) technology in document scanners: We’ll admit this isn’t a very sexy story in and of itself, but to us it is the sign of something bigger. In 2014, three leading scanner vendors announced enhanced on-board image processing features: Fujitsu introduced PaperStream IP, which has replaced Kofax VRS as its bundled IP technology [see DIR 1/31/14]; Visioneer embedded IP on a chip with its new On Board Acuity [see DIR 7/18/14]; and Kodak Alaris introduced a new embedded version of its PerfectPage technology [see DIR 6/13/14].

So, what’s the big deal? This trend may help scanners run at closer to rated speeds today, but down the road is when the big benefits could come. More onboard IP creates the potential for removing the PC (where IP has historically been run) from the scanning equation. Not surprisingly, Fujitsu, Visioneer, and Kodak Alaris are all members of the TWAIN Working Group, which is actively working on a new TWAIN Direct standard, designed to connect scanners to applications without going through traditional drivers. EMC Captiva (which develops ISIS drivers) has undertaken a similar initiative with its Cloud SDK.

One end game of these initiatives is that they will enable scanners to be run by a multitude of alternative computing devices such as network devices, phones, tablets, netbooks, and who knows what else. They should also simplify development of capture applications. This trend of more onboard IP is helping move document scanning into the 21st century and beyond.
2. Rise of Cloud computing in ECM: I don’t think we’ve hit the tipping point yet, but in 2014 there were multiple small movements this way that are starting to add up: You had reseller IDT telling us that 40% of its new business is coming from cloud sales [see DIR 11/7/14]. You had Captricity, a 100% cloud-based crowdsourcing capture ISV, securing a $10 million round of Series B funding [see DIR 8/1/14]. You had Ephesoft, which has a purely Web-based cloud friendly capture platform, getting a minority investment from Fujitsu [see DIR 8/1/14]. You had capture ISV TIS buying cloud document management provider eGistics [see DIR 7/18/14]. And you had Box announcing workflow technology at BoxWorks and Dropbox revamping its Dropbox for Business; in the meantime, you had SharePoint experience some growing pains as Microsoft tried to reposition it as part of its Office 365 cloud offering.

As I said, there wasn’t a tidal wave of ECM cloud adoption, but rather a large number of smaller waves in that direction that combined can be equally powerful, especially if they continue to gain momentum in the upcoming year.

1. Lexmark acquires ReadSoft: Far and away the biggest story of 2014 was Lexmark’s acquisition of ReadSoft. The drama played out publicly over a period of four months, from May to August, with the Lexington, KY-based MFP vendor finally paying the equivalent of US $255 million for the market leading capture ISV, which is based in Helsingborg, Sweden. Counter bidding by Hyland Software drove up the price from Lexmark’s initial offer of $182 million.

By all appearances, the acquisition began innocuously enough when Lexmark announced its initial bid on May 6. Although the price seemed relatively low by capture market standards based on its multiple of 1.5x ReadSoft’s 2013 revenue, it did represent a record premium of 117% over market cap for a company trading on the Stockholm Exchange. Lexmark’s offer was unanimously recommended by ReadSoft’s board and included a provision that the board would only consider a competing offer if it was at least 7% higher than the Lexmark offer.

About a week before the acceptance period for the offer was scheduled to conclude, in mid-June, Hyland, probably Lexmark’s Perceptive Software’s most direct competitor in the ECM market, made a bid of approximately $198M, which was 8.7% higher than the Lexmark bid. Lexmark quickly countered with a $200M bid, because, well, they did not have to adhere to the same 7% premium.

Reading the ReadSoft and Hyland statements surrounding the bids led DIR to believe that Lexmark has made some promises regarding future employment of ReadSoft personnel that Hyland was unwilling to match [see DIR 6/27/14]. We also got the impression that Hyland was feeling a bit jilted by ReadSoft’s preference of Lexmark as a suitor. Apparently Hyland had been in talks with ReadSoft prior to the original Lexmark bid that had reportedly ended abruptly.

This all led to Hyland’s buying up of approximately 11% of ReadSoft’s outstanding shares, which it felt voided a 90% share requirement provision in Lexmark’s bid, and then making another bid of approximately $210M. Lexmark countered with a bid of $224M, which included an option to waive the 90% provision [see DIR 7/18/14]. Hyland took one more shot, which Lexmark answered with its $255M bid that included purchasing outright all the shares of ReadSoft’s two co-founders. This gave Lexmark a voting majority and effectively closed the deal [see DIR 8/22/14].

The bidding war was great for the capture industry, as it effectively increased the acquisition multiple of one of the market leaders to 2.2x revenue, a much healthier figure than the one associated with the original bid. The reasons for the acquisition on Lexmark’s side are clear. These include helping it reach its goal of $500 million in revenue for Perceptive Software in 2016 and increasing its European ECM presence. At the same time it helps Lexmark avoid the higher tax rates associated with repatriated profits by investing them in a European acquisition.

Hyland would also have benefited greatly from ReadSoft’s European presence, including its well regarded SAP integration in accounts payable applications. But, in the end it could not compete with Lexmark’s deeper pockets and whatever employment agreements were reached between Lexmark and ReadSoft. Curiously, at the same time it was acquiring ReadSoft, which has recently operated at around a break-even level, Lexmark was touting a goal of reaching 25% operating margins for Perceptive, which, for Q3 (minus some partial quarter numbers from ReadSoft), reported just 3.8% margins [see DIR 11/7/14]. Lexmark clearly has its work cut out.

Somewhat ironically, a couple months after it bowed out of the ReadSoft bidding, Hyland signed a partnership with Xerox. Part of the goal of that relationship is to help the ECM ISV expand its international reach [see DIR 11/21/14]. This should help even the playing field with Perceptive somewhat, although we still wouldn’t be surprised to see Hyland acquire a European ISV to supplement its efforts.
Those are some of the high points of our news coverage in 2014, a year which also included another successful AIIM Conference [see DIR 4/11/14], a strong rebound in Kodak branded scanner sales (now being sold by Kodak Alaris) [see DIR 10/24/14], Harvey’s Spencer Associates celebrating its 10th annual Capture Conference [see DIR 9/12/14], and Nuance buying MFP capture rival Notable Solutions.

Industry Pioneer Passes

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that 2014 was also the year that we lost one of the industry’s true pioneers, Nien-Ling Wacker. Wacker founded Laserfiche in 1987, a company that has been one of the leaders in the document imaging and management space since I started working in the market in 1998. Despite the company’s consistent growth, Wacker did her best to maintain her personal touch in the business. Whenever I would see her at events, should always made time to hold a real conversation and never failed to ask how I and our publication were doing, even as I interviewed her about Laserfiche.

Wacker received many accolades throughout her career, including the AIIM Pioneer of the Year Award in 2002, National Luminary of the Year by the Mothers in Business Network in 2005, and City National Bank’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009. In 2006 she was inducted into the National Association of Women Business Owners Hall of Fame in Los Angeles. She is also remembered for her “Red Shoes” story, the moral of which is along the lines of “make hay while the sun shines,” which Wacker certainly did during her tenure with Laserfiche.

Nien-Ling’s husband Chris has taken over as Laserfiche CEO. Karl Chan has been promoted from CTO to president.