The economys ailment has struck technology stocks as a whole, but older bank technology providers, led by Fiserv Inc., seem immune.
Bradley Moore, an analyst at Putnam Lovell Securities Inc., noted that stocks in Fiserv and rivals such as Bisys Group Inc. and Jack Henry & Associates Inc. shot up last week, and First Union Securities Inc. analyst David Trossman said, This is a continuation of what has been going on for the last 12 to 18 months.
It dates back to the Nasdaqs spring 2000 peak. Fancier subsegments of the tech sector, most notably telecommunications and the Internet, tumbled while electronic processing companies such as Fiserv, Bisys, and Jack Henry kept going strong.
Earnings stability is what investors like, Mr. Moore said.
Fiserv closed Friday down 3.37%, Bisys down 0.17%, and Jack Henry up 2.04%. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.44%.
These companies do core account processing, are paid on a per-account basis, and have long-term contracts with their clients, Mr. Trossman said. In other words, they have stable business models.
For instance, instead of investing in electronic bill presentment and payment businesses, Fiserv focuses on small and midsize companies insurance and other traditional businesses that complement its core of processing, said Mr. Trossman, who has a buy rating on the Brookfield, Wis., company.
Fiserv announced last month that it will offer receivables management services, lockbox processing, to clients of the Chicago banking company Northern Trust Co., which is to sign a seven-year processing agreement with Fiserv.
In a research note issued last week, Nik Fisken, an analyst at Stephens Inc., rated Fiserv outperform, citing its 30-year track record of acquiring companies at a price that allows for an attractive return rate and of maintaining each acquired company as a separate unit under strict monthly budgets.
Bisys, of Little Falls, N.J., has been no slouch in acquisitions. Last week it bought the Toner Organization insurance brokerage in Exton, Pa., for an undisclosed amount, its fourth insurance-related purchase in a year. The others were Insurance Exchange of America in May, Advanced Markets LLC in March, and Ascensus Insurance Services last year.
Another strength of Fiserv and Bisys is that both are outsourcing companies, Mr. Moore said.
As market conditions and the economic environment worsens, that tends to improve their businesses, he said. Theyre in markets that tend to want to outsource even more during bad conditions because companies are looking for ways to save money and/or cut tech expenditures. And rather than go it alone, they prefer to hire someone else to do it for them, he added.
Shares of Jack Henry had been slightly flat compared with the other two because it is more of a software company than Fiserv and Bisys, even though it is viewed as Fiservs chief competitor, since both target small banks, Mr. Moore said.
Mr. Moore of Putnam Lovell lowered his short-term rating on Jack Henry to hold last week but maintained his long-term rating at buy.
We believe that the stock has gotten ahead of itself and look for a retreat before another meaningful advance, he said.
Mr. Fisken and Mr. Trossman praised the Monett, Mo., companys blending of its own products and platforms with those of companies it has acquired. Tight integration allows for better cross-selling and makes it easier to develop additional products in the future, Mr. Fisken wrote.
Jack Henry is to report its second-quarter earnings July 23, Fiserv July 24, and Bisys July 30.
These companies revenue stability has given them an earnings-visibility edge over the rest of the tech field during the slow spell, Mr. Trossman said. In the down market, these guys outperform."