Acxiom shares off 7% after fourth quarter, yearly results miss Wall Street targets

by Wesley Brown (wesbrocomm@gmail.com) 78 views 

Shares of Acxiom Corp. fell more than 7% in trading Wednesday (May 17) after the Little Rock-based data marketer missed Wall Street targets after releasing fourth quarter and yearly results following Tuesday’s market close.

For the period ended March 31, Acxiom reported an operating loss of $9 million, or 10 cents per share, compared to a loss of $8 million, or 2 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Total revenue was flat at $224.9 million, compared to $224.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.

A survey of Wall Street analysts had expected the company to report fourth quarter earnings of 17 cents per share on revenue of $221.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters. In early afternoon trading, the shares (NASDAQ: ACXM) were down $2.11, or 7.48%, at $26.10.

For the full year, Acxiom’s earnings from continuing operations rose to $16 million, or 5 cents per share, a marked improvement over a loss of $13 million, or 11 cents per share, in the year ago period. Total revenue rose slightly to $880 million, up 3.5% from $850 million in fiscal 2016.

Acxiom CEO Scott Howe called fiscal 2017 a “milestone year” as the company sold off its Impact email marketing business and acquired three East Coast “people-based” startups to scale up the company’s identity and customer recognition network and expand its “people-based” marketing beyond Google and Facebook.

“Each of our businesses delivered revenue growth and margin improvement, and we made a number of strategic moves to accelerate our vision of powering a world where all marketing is relevant,” Howe said. “We enter fiscal 2018 from a position of strength and industry leadership and remain committed to delivering even more value to our clients and shareholders.”

In a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Howe said the company completely changed its focused since 2012

“Over the past 5 years, Acxiom has undergone a remarkable transformation, and we are a much stronger and better positioned company today than we were when we began this journey,” Howe said. “We’re at the forefront of a massive shift towards data-driven, people-based marketing. We are aligned against a single, clear strategy. We move faster and are more innovative, relevant and influential, and our recent results give me confidence we have rounded the corner.”

Following are other key items in the earnings report.
• Product revenue for Acxiom’s LiveRamp division was up 59% compared to the fourth quarter of last year, and added approximately 25 new direct clients and 50 partner integrations during the quarter. LiveRamp also launched IdentityLink to allow data providers to better monetize their assets by tying data to real people.

• Acxiom’s LiveRamp, AppNexus and MediaMath launched an open industry consortium to make people-based marketing widely available in programmatic channels. In forming the consortium, participants have agreed to create a standard identity framework that enables buyers and sellers of programmatic digital advertising to create more relevant campaigns and improve the consumer experience.

• The company’s Audience Solutions division announced several new and expanded partnerships, including anew DaaS partnership with ShareThis and a deeper integration with the Viant Advertising Cloud platform.

In fiscal 2018, Acxiom now expects yearly revenue of approximately $945 million, an increase of 7% compared to fiscal 2017. This represents an increase of 10% year-over-year after adjusting for the Acxiom Impact divestiture. However, Acxiom still does not expect to see a profit in fiscal 2018, forecasting a yearly loss of nine cents per share, company officials said.

Over the past year, Acxiom has continued to transform its operations with the sale of underperforming assets and businesses, while tightening its focus on providing data analytics, onboarding and identity solutions to large global clients seeking to harness their interactions with consumers through various media channels, including online, mobile and TV.

In August, Acxiom completed the sale of its Acxiom Impact email marketing business to Zeta Interactive for an undisclosed sum. The close of that deal coincided with the launch of LiveRamp IdentityLink, which is based in San Francisco.

In June, Acxiom said it was considering the sale of its downtown Little Rock headquarters, a 12-story, curved office tower in the city’s River Market district that was built in 2003. Two months ago, Simmons Bank purchased the Acxiom Corp. office tower in downtown Little Rock, and Acxiom will move its corporate headquarters to Conway – where it was originally based. Terms of that deal was also not disclosed.

Some of Acxiom’s former employees who worked in the downtown office are now part of Ensono, the data technology management division of the Little Rock publicly-traded company that sold for $190 million to private equity firms Capital Partners and M/C Partners in August 2015. Ensono has more than 700 employees, including at least 100 who work at the company’s Conway data center.

No longer in the IT outsourcing business, Acxiom still has offices in seven locations in the United States, SEC filings show. Besides its varied locations in Conway, Acxiom also has employees in San Francisco and Redwood City, Calif., Downers Grove, Ill., Nashville, Tenn., Austin, Texas, and New York City.

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