Ra’anana, Israel-based Nice Systems (NASDAQ:NICE), which makes software that scrutinizes the performance of call center workers, this morning announced profit of 37 cents a share and sales of $120 million in the fourth quarter ending in December, just a bit above Street estimates, and the company raised its outlook for this year above expectations, with profit per share as high as $1.46 and sales as high as $502 million versus $1.41 and $494 million. That’s nice.
But after a 47% rise in the last 12 months, including a jump of nearly 10% this morning, the stock may have gotten ahead of itself, says Friedman Billings Ramsey software analyst Daniel Ives. The company is running out of room to blow away expectations, says Ives: “We believe that the shares could take a breather in the near term, given our belief that estimates will not move up materially higher throughout the year, which is a dynamic investors have become accustomed to on this name.”
On the plus side, Nice’s profit after the cost of goods is going up as the company integrates individual software programs from several acquisitions it has made, says Ives. On the down side, sales of software, as separate from ongoing maintenance contracts and consulting operations, was less than Ives expected, implying that perhaps year-over-year growth will be harder to come by in the future.
Ives thinks the stock is worth $35 at 25x his estimate of $1.42 in profit per share this year, which is admittedly below what the company is saying it may deliver.
Nice shares are just above that price target, at $35.98.
NICE 1-yr chart