Spatial Information Companies Limp through Second Half of 2002

By Joe Francica

With the slump in information technology spending still weighing heavily on the economy, the spatial information industry limped all the way through the second half of 2002.We have recorded the stock prices of the public companies that do business in this sector throughout this past year and the chart below shows how lackluster the performance of these companies has been.
Although it looks as if there were no dramatic moves in price, a closer look reveals some interesting situations. During the period since we began covering many of the stocks, somewhere in mid-May, MapInfo (MAPS) lost over half its value, and although it looked that there would be a recovery in the stock from below the $5 level in late September to above $7 in December, it finishes the year at or near the $6 level.

Intergraph (INGR), which saw its fortunes rise dramatically with two major lawsuit wins against Intel for $450 Million, still met resistance at the $20 level and finishes near where we began tracking the stock, rising only about .5% since last March.Intergraph recently filed lawsuits against the major computer manufactures, Dell, HP, and Gateway, for royalties from sales of PC's using the Pentium processors, deemed by the courts to contain Intergraph technology.

One of the more significant value surges came from Group One Software (GSOF), makers of Code-1 geocoding and data quality software, which saw its stock jump over 40%, with most of the rise coming since October when it announced record quarterly earnings and a 21% leap in gross revenue.

Analytical Surveys (ANLT), a provider of data conversion and digital mapping services, underwent a 1 for 10 reverse stock split this fall and saw its value continue to sink due to continued losses.The company saw the number and size of its contract shrink and was forced to sell its Colorado office last April.

Oracle (ORCL) has yet to set its ship right and continues to confuse market analysts with respect to its spatial information strategy.In discussions with both MapInfo and Intergraph, company representatives have stated that Oracle has changed its focus from support for GIS to giving more emphasis to its mobile technology and location services.However, its stock has climbed over 13% since August and company executives have stated that customer spending has picked up.

Autodesk (ADSK) has changed little since the May timeframe, falling only about 2%, but for the year, the loss of value is closer to 16%.And with a P/E of around 35, the stock may still be at risk for further consolidation.

AtRoad (ARDI), a supplier of internet-based solutions for mobile workforce deployment, such as vehicle routing, has had a roller coaster ride this year.The company saw its stock rise to above the $8 level in April, only to fall back to around $4 by year's end.It was downgraded, then upgraded by the same analyst within a two month period.

Descartes Systems Group Inc., another supplier of logistics and routing technology, has risen 20% since October, mostly on news of landing large accounts such as AOL Time Warner and several in Honk Kong where it has opened an office.

Published Monday, December 30th, 2002

Written by Joe Francica

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