Acquisitions to lower EBIT by 45-50bps in 1st year – PERSISTENTMaitreyee Vaishampayan
Update on the Indian Equity Market:
After a volatile session on Tuesday, NIFTY settled at 17316 (+1.2%) near the day’s high of 17,334. IT (+2.0%), OIL & GAS (+1.9%), and AUTO (+1.2%) were the top sectoral gainers. REALTY (-1.0%), CONSUMER DURABLES (-0.7%), and PHARMA (-0.3%) led the sectoral losers. Among the NIFTY50 components, TECHM (+4.2%), BPCL (+3.0%), and TATAMOTORS (+3.0%) led the gainers. HINDUNILVR (-2.9%), NESTLEIND (-2.7%), and BRITANNIA (-2.2%) led the losers.
Excerpts of an interview with Mr. Sandeep Kalra, CEO and ED, Persistent Systems (PERSISTENT) with The Economic Times on 21st March 2022:
- PERSISTENT recently acquired MediaAgility, which is recognised as a Google premier partner which is the highest level of partnership in the Google ecosystem. MediaAgility comes with seven different Google cloud specialisations, ranging from migration cloud, NetApp development, modernisation, security, etc. In terms of the industry verticals, MediaAgility has a presence in BFSI, healthcare, life sciences, media entertainment, and gaming.
- Explaining the rationale behind the recently concluded acquisitions, the CEO suggested the enterprises had already started their digital transformation journey before the pandemic. These transformation journeys sped dramatically during COVID, and hyperscalers have taken notice. They’ve been releasing more services, including vertical-specific offers, at an increased rate nearly every month.
- The hyperscalers – IBM, Google, AWS – are expected to play an incrementally bigger role in the enterprise journey. PERSISTENT is already present in these segments, with revenues over USD 100mn. The recent acquisition of Data Glove added to PERSISTENT’s capabilities on the Microsoft Azure cloud technology.
- With the MediaAgility acquisition, the Company intends to increase its presence on the Google Cloud Platform. Each of the platforms has their own niches and own customer base and PERSISTENT is trying to be the Uber of the cloud services for its customers.
- Whenever an acquisition is done, there is a cost of doing it, and the Company expects a 45-50bps hit on the EBIT in the first year. The Company is confident of the acquisition being margin accretive once the integration process is complete.
- PERSISTENT has established its footprint in BFSI, and healthcare life sciences and has 35plus enterprise customers across the US, India, and the UK. MediaAgility has a delivery centre in Mexico which complements PERSISTENT’s footprint in Guadalajara, Mexico. The acquisition will add over 500 cloud engineers with significant Google-certified capabilities.
- The Company is following a strategy of bolt-on or tuck-in acquisitions and these would be in areas where it wants to expand its capabilities or expand its geographical footprint.
- The overall demand environment is continuing to be healthy and over the last 12 months, PERSISTENT has announced deal wins in terms of an ACV of USD 882 mn and in excess of USD 1.1 bn in TCV terms. This Is a fairly healthy run rate in terms of the order book. The overall demand environment is good and PERSISTENT is building a capability that will last irrespective of the demand environment.
- The revenue growth is expected to be healthy due to strong order bookings. The EBITDA margin is expected to be in the 16-17% range. The Company is looking to grow its capabilities and acquire market share.
- In terms of long-term aspirations, the Company intends to improve its margin by about 2-3 percent over the next two to three years.
- Attrition is one of the headwinds to the Indian IT sector. The Russia-Ukraine crisis is expected to increase the pressure on Indian talent.
- In terms of tailwinds, IT services have a better pricing power compared to commoditised services. PERSISTENT being a specialised technology services company has a little better pricing power.
- The Company has done multiple acquisitions in the last 12 months, with a capital commitment of over USD 220mn over the next few years. For now, it will take a little pause and focus on integrating the acquired companies. Should there be an opportunity in Eastern Europe, the Company would pursue it over the next 9 – 12 months.
Asset Multiplier Comments
- PERSISTENT has completed 4 acquisitions in FY22 to strengthen domain capabilities in IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud. These acquisitions have helped increase the Company’s presence in verticals like High Tech, BFSI, and Healthcare and bolster near-shore and on-shore presence in North America.
- IBM has been PERSISTENT’s partner for over 25 years, contributing over 25% to the total revenues in FY21. Alongside addition in domain capabilities, these acquisitions have helped reduce the concentration risk.
Consensus Estimate: (Source: market screener website)
- The closing price of PERSISTENT was ₹ 4,532/- as of 22-March-2022. It traded at 41x/ 34x the consensus earnings estimate of ₹ 110/ 132/- per share for FY23E/FY24E respectively.
- The consensus target price of ₹ 4,682/- implies a P/E Multiple of 35x on FY24E EPS estimate of ₹ 132/-
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