Executives of Fidelity National Information Services Inc. said Wednesday that cost-cutting and international growth offset weak domestic sales in its first quarter.
A significant core processing contract announced this week supplied some cause for optimism about the rest of the year, and executives said the Jacksonville, Fla., vendor remains on track to close its deal for a smaller rival, Metavante Technologies Inc. of Milwaukee, in the third quarter.
Analysts said that the company's results were largely in line with Wall Street's expectations.
Lee Kennedy, Fidelity's president and chief executive, told analysts during a conference call to discuss the first-quarter results that consumer payment activity picked up in February and March after a "disaster" in January but sagged again in April.
The company's financial solutions unit suffered from lower software buying and professional services spending by banks in a "very challenging" economy, he said, but its international businesses produced double-digit growth.
Software revenue, which often depends on a few decisions by large financial customers, is hard to predict, Kennedy said. "In spite of lower software and professional service revenue, our pipeline remains full," he said, "and we believe this segment will strengthen as we move throughout 2009."
He pointed to the company's announcement Tuesday that Scottrade Bank in Des Peres, Mo., the $3.7 billion-asset banking unit of the online brokerage Scottrade Inc., had agreed to use Fidelity's Profile core processing system and its online banking application.
"This is the sixth competitive Profile win over the past 12 months," Kennedy said, and Fidelity is working on several other major deals, including a couple similar to the one with Scottrade.
But with the financial crisis now in its second year, banks are "very cautious and very deliberate in making decisions for large purchases," he said.
"We're still not at the point in time that I would consider the market stable and secure and predictable," Kennedy said. "I think there will be pressure on discretionary spending, but I think we'll look toward some improvement as we move into the second half. Our pipelines are very, very strong."
William P. Foley 2nd, Fidelity's executive chairman, said plans were on track to complete the company's Metavante deal, for $2.94 billion of Fidelity stock, in July or early August.
"We believe that strong product capability, scale and broad markets and geographic reach will become increasingly important in the future," Foley said. "We have been very pleased with the favorable response from customers, shareholders and employees."
Fidelity expects to issue a preliminary proxy statement in May.
It said its net earnings fell 47% from the year earlier, to $32.7 million, largely because of a loss of income from discontinued operations. Revenue of $797.8 million was down 4%, largely on a $35 million currency fluctuation hit.
The company's preferred measure of monitoring its continuing performance, adjusted net earnings, grew 19%, to 31 cents per share, matching Wall Street's average estimate.
Fidelity reaffirmed its full-year outlook for adjusted net earnings of $1.60 to $1.66 per share, a forecast that does not include Metavante's prospective contribution.
John Kraft, an analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co., said he saw "nothing terribly surprising" in the results.
"They had a few deal pushouts in software" and some cost-cutting, Kraft said in an interview.
"The year is a little back-end loaded, and people don't like that because of the risk," he said, referring to Fidelity's pipeline. "If any one of those deals comes through, it will be a pretty nice pop."