* Q4 non-GAAP earnings per share $0.70 vs estimate of $0.66
* Sees 2013 non-GAAP earnings per share $2.55 to $2.65
* Board approves dividend plan of $0.16 shr per qtr
* Shares slide in Tel Aviv, flat in morning Nasdaq trade
By Steven Scheer
TEL AVIV, Feb 13 Israel-based software provider
Nice Systems projected revenue and profit growth in
2013 after quarterly profit topped estimates and said it would
start paying quarterly dividends.
Nice has benefited from growing demand for tools to
delve into large amounts of data as companies look to improve
their businesses, spot fraud and fend off security threats.
Chief Financial Officer Dafna Gruber said the group expected
2013 to be a year of profitable growth after strong orders in
the fourth quarter.
But a weaker-than-expected full-year forecast sent Nice
shares down to close 5.4 percent lower in afternoon trading in
Tel Aviv. Its Nasdaq shares were flat at $37.02 in morning
trade. As of Tuesday's close, both are up about 11 percent so
far this year.
Nice estimated 2013 revenue of $940-$970 million and
adjusted earnings per share on a diluted basis of $2.55-$2.65 -
a seven percent rise in revenue and five percent in profit.
"We wanted to take a cautious approach at this point,"
Gruber said of the outlook, adding that it was likely that the
second half would be stronger than the first.
"It's not a great performance to say the least," said Daniel
Meron, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets. "The upbeat commentary
is not consistent with the lighter-than-expected guidance."
But Shaul Eyal, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co said the
combination of fourth-quarter results, the announcement of a
dividend policy and the appointment of a new chairman with a
strong banking and mergers and acquisition background will
enable Nice to "sustain the positive momentum the shares have
been showing in recent months".
Nice said board member David Kostman was appointed chairman,
replacing Ron Gutler, chairman since 2002.
Gruber said Nice's analytics segment - where tightening
compliance requirements in finance, energy and other sectors had
boosted business - was the fastest growing area and accounted
for more than half of new business in the fourth quarter.
"The company is shifting towards selling more and more
analytical-based applications," Gruber told Reuters. "The
continued focus on regulation and compliance has had a
favourable impact on our business."
Nice also makes sure call centres work efficiently, while
its systems aid in surveillance for security forces trying to
protect buildings and transport networks against attack.
Boosted by a tax benefit, interest income and a smaller
share count following a buy-back programme, Nice earned 70 cents
a share excluding items in the fourth quarter, up from 60 cents
a year earlier as revenue excluding items rose 12 percent to a
record $240 million.
Analysts on average expected adjusted earnings of 66 cents
per share on revenue of $246 million, according to Thomson
For the first quarter of 2013 Nice expects revenue excluding
one-time items to be in a range of $220 million to $230 million
and EPS excluding items to be in a range of 57 to 62 cents. That
is below expectations of $234 million in revenue and EPS of 62
Nice said it expected its initial annual dividend to be 64
cents a share, or 16 cents quarterly. The first payment is
expected to be in the second quarter of 2013.