Business News: Financial & Legal Update on Location Technology Companies

By Joe Francica

Below is a brief review of recent financial and legal developments in the location technology sector.

SiRF Jumps 15% on First Day of Trading
SiRF Technology Holdings, Inc.(Nasdaq: SIRF) announced that it commenced its initial public offering of 11,000,000 shares of its Common Stock at a price of $12.00 per share on April 22, 2004.According to ZNet News, "SiRF closed at $15.30...Earlier in the week, the company was slated to release 10 million shares at between $10 and $12 a share.The company's stock traded as low as $13.99 and as high as $15.50. While GPS technology has been commercially available for about a decade, sales were generally relatively modest until recently.In the United States, demand can be largely traced to the Federal Communications Commission's E911 mandate."

MapInfo Reports Record Revenue of $31.4 Million and Second Quarter EPS of $0.07 ; MapInfo Q2 exceeds expectations; Highest Quarterly Revenue in company history
MapInfo turned in extremely solid results in the most recent report of quarterly revenues and has revised guidance upward for their entire year revenue outlook."We continue to see evidence of an improved IT environment," said Mark Cattini, President.The revised yearly revenue is now predicted to be between $123-125 Million; gross margin at 71%; and earnings to be .31 to .38 per share.Q3 is expected to come in at approximately $31 Million. In addition, the company sees trailing revenues (revenues of the preceding four months) of $118 Million and has now had four consecutive quarter of profitability.

MapInfo believes that their focus on vertical markets is now driving their revenue and profit growth.In the quarter, they saw substantial revenue growth in each of their target markets:

Vertical Market
Growth by Sector
As a Percentage of Revenue

Services constituted 21% of revenues.

In the retail sector, MapInfo noted ongoing work with major retailer clients such as The Gap, Yankee Candle, Linens 'n Things, Children's Place and The Home Depot, which was updating their sales forecasting system. The company also launched SmartSite Solutions, for real estate site selection, market analysis and build out planning.In the public sector, the company is beginning work on an economic development for the New York State Empire Development department.
and the UK Police expanded use from 350 to 1100 users for crime analysis.

The company also indicated its intentions to develop a fourth vertical market in Insurance and Finance, as revenues in this sector comprised 11% of total earnings.This is not a surprise as MapInfo announced last June that it had developed a solution called Insurance Decision Solutions Suite and more recently, RiskReview, a solution to help risk management.The company indicated substantial completion of a project for Zurich Financial and Insurance and also noted that they had six insurance company wins in excess of $50K this quarter.Cattini is looking for this vertical to provide about 15% as a total contribution in their overall business mix, but noted that its early.

European revenues were up 12% and Asia/Pacific saw increase mainly due to favorable currency rates.

The analysts did not show any of the same concern that had plagued calls in the recent past.The analyst from First Albany asked Cattini to characterize the deal pipeline heading into Q3.Cattini indicated that the pipeline is about the same at Q2 and a continued focus leaning to vertical markets. In addition, he was asked to delineate MapInfo's competitor's.Surprisingly, Cattini noted Autodesk as a competitor in the Telecommunication marketplace, which primarily provides data capture software to MapInfo's analytical suite.In the retail sector, MapInfo is facing strong competition from geoVue, The Buxton Company, and Claritas, whose Integras Division was formed to capitalize on the services market for specialized analytics.In the finance sector, MapInfo competes with Group 1, which was recently acquired by Pitney Bowes (see below).

Intergraph Settles with Intel, AMD, and Dell
At long last, it appears that the court battle between Intergraph and Intel has drawn to a close.On March 30th, The Huntsville Times reported that Intergraph will receive $225 Million in their patent infringement suite the the chip maker and to resolve a separate dispute with Dell Inc. In total, Intergraph will have received $675 Million since April 2002 regarding the patent suites filed against Intel's Itanium, a 64-bit microprocessor, and Pentium chips."The removal of Dell from the case brings significant clarity and focus on HP and Gateway," said Halsey Wise, Intergraph's CEO, against which similar claims are being made for a trial set for this August, said the Times.On April 12th, the Times also reported that Intergraph has settled a claim with AMD for $10 Million for its parallel instruction computing, or PIC, patents.Last year, similar PIC patent suits were brought against Texas Instruments (settled for $18 Million) and IBM (settled for $10 Million).

So what will Intergraph do with the cash? I expect that the company will move with extreme caution.Acquisitions are certainly possible, as well as probable, but it will be a balancing act by Mr.Wise to maintain the stock price while making aggressive moves to acquire companies that will be immediately accretive to Intergraph's bottom line.

NAVTEQ Files Registration Statement for Proposed Initial Public Offering (IPO). NAVTEQ, having changed its name on March 15th, has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a proposed $500 million IPO of shares of its common stock.The shares in the offering are being offered by Philips Consumer Electronics B.V.and NavPart I B.V., NAVTEQ's principal stockholders. These are heady times in the location based services marketplace which seems to have been revitalized by an onslaught of potential consumer applications from in-vehicle navigation systems to cell phone "buddy-finders." NAVTEQ may be catching the upswing at exactly the right time.The technology infrastructure is not quite there yet in the U.S.(see "A Review of Location-based Services") but certainly coming.The fuel for all of these applications will be a basic set of digital street centerlines and points of interest data.NAVTEQ has both.Add in their newly announced "real-time" traffic solutions, NAVTEQ TRAFFICTM and the company is just likely to have been able to time the market perfectly for a host of products and services to enhance the IPO.

Oracle is upgraded to "Accumulate"
Business Week reports that "Oracle is trading at a discount to peers on price-earnings and P/E-to-growth metrics, but profitability is well above peers.S&P believes most of the business disruption surrounding Oracle's hostile bid for PeopleSoft is priced into the shares.With the Department of Justice and possible European Union opposition to the deal, S&P thinks there could be a positive catalyst if Oracle walked away from its bid.With business improving, S&P believes the shares are attractive at a discount to the 12-month target price of $15, up from $14, based on relative valuation and a discounted cash-flow analysis." Analysts also believe that the U.S.Justice's bid to block Oracle's hostile takeover of PeopleSoft may fail, opening the door for a continued pursuit by the company.As the dominant database player in the location intelligence sector, Oracle's ability to reach a broader market with its tools would only broaden the available pool of customers who could leverage location-based technology.

Pitney Bowes to Acquire Group 1 Software
According to a press release on April 13, "Pitney Bowes Inc.(NYSE:PBI) today (April 13) signed a definitive agreement to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Group 1 Software, Inc.(Nasdaq:GSOF) for $23 per share, which net of cash on Group 1's balance sheet, will cost the company approximately $321 million.Group 1 Software is an industry leader in software that enhances mailing efficiency, data quality and customer communications.Group 1 will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pitney Bowes within its Global Enterprise Solutions segment, continuing to operate under its current management. Subject to approval by Group 1's stockholders and completion of other conditions, the transaction is expected to close in the third calendar quarter of 2004. Upon completion, Pitney Bowes expects the acquisition to be neutral to accretive to earnings, excluding integration costs, and cash earnings positive in its first twelve months." As MapInfo identified Group 1 as a competitor in the financial services sector, it may find Pitney Bowes an even more formidable opponent, which has a market capitalization of over $10 Billion.

Microsoft and Sun Microsystems Enter Broad Cooperation Agreement; Settle Outstanding Litigation
This is a big deal.Burying the hatchet between these two IT behemoths (although one is a little more behemoth than the other these days), is nearly akin to settling the Hatfield/McCoy skirmishes.Such long-standing "hatred" is hard to quell, but quell is has."The agreements involve payments of $700 million to Sun by Microsoft to resolve pending antitrust issues and $900 million to resolve patent issues.In addition, Sun and Microsoft have agreed to pay royalties for use of each other's technology, with Microsoft making an up-front payment of $350 million and Sun making payments when this technology is incorporated into its server products." The agreement also lays out a broad series of cooperative steps to collaborate on software development for Java and .NET, communication protocols, and the elimination of lawsuits in the U.S.This had to send shivers down the back of IBM. For the geospatial community, there is obvious benefits in the location-based services marketplace for Java/.NET developers although it may just be too early to tell if the cooperation results in unique platform interoperability.

QUALCOMM and SnapTrack Receive Favorable Jury Verdict in Patent Case
According to the press release, "an eight-person jury issued a unanimous defense verdict in favor of QUALCOMM and its wholly owned subsidiary SnapTrack Inc., on six of the seven claims at issue in a patent infringement lawsuit filed against them by Zoltar Satellite Alarm Systems.While the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the one remaining patent claim, QUALCOMM and SnapTrack have filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law, asking Judge James Ware, who presided over the case, to dismiss that claim from the case. The court has taken the motion under submission.Zoltar's lawsuit accused QUALCOMM's and SnapTrack's position location technology of infringing three patents when used to determine the location of the caller making an E-911 emergency telephone call using a cellular phone.QUALCOMM's and SnapTrack's patented position location technology supports hundreds of location-based applications and is being widely deployed by numerous wireless carriers around the world." QUALCOMM recently renamed its SnapTrack division product offerings to Qpoint.

Quova Acquires Competitor InfoSplit
According to the press release, "Quova, Inc., the world's leading provider and developer of Web geography services and technologies, today announced the acquisition of longtime competitor InfoSplit, Inc., a New York-based geolocation provider, in a cash/stock transaction that further consolidates Quova's dominance of the fast-growing geolocation market.InfoSplit's product offerings, OneToOne for targeted Web content and Market Reports for Web site analytics, and its proprietary NetLocator technology will be incorporated into Quova's industry-leading suite of solutions.Quova also announced that InfoSplit president and CEO Cyril Houri has joined Quova's management team."

LizardTech vs ER Mapper litigation: Federal judge rules part of LizardTech patent is invalid and that ER Mapper does not infringe.Ruling helps protect JPEG 2000 from LizardTech patent claims. On March 30th, "Chief Judge John Coughenour of the U.S.District Court for the Western District of Washington has ruled that Earth Resource Mapping (ERM) does not infringe several claims of LizardTech, Inc.'s '835 image compression patent and that the remaining claims are invalid.This ruling clears ERM of patent infringement allegations dating back to 1999." LizardTech was displeased at the wording of this release as it mentions issues unrelated to the specific claims in the suit.

LizardTech and Mapping Science Announce Lawsuit Settlement: In another outstanding law suit, LizardTech and Mapping Sciences settled their claims resulting in the acquisition of Mapping Sciences by LizardTech.According to the press release, "as part of the settlement agreement, Mapping Science will cease its operations and transfer all assets to LizardTech.LizardTech will assume responsibility for support and transition of Mapping Science's existing customers."

Published Tuesday, April 27th, 2004

Written by Joe Francica

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