Some bank technology companies, still feeling the effect of sales slumps caused by year-2000 concerns, are looking forward to better quarterly earnings - next time.
Concentrex Inc., a Portland, Ore., provider of a wide variety of bank and electronic commerce software, posted losses in 1999's last two quarters, and for the full year, after 24 consecutive quarters of operating profits. Besides charges taken in connection with three acquisitions last year, the results reflected the decision of many financial-institution customers to delay software purchases, said Robert Chamness, Concentrex's president and chief operating officer.
"1999 is over, as are the two most painful quarters in the company's history," he said.
Online Resources and Communications Corp. of McLean, Va., said its preliminary fourth-quarter revenue estimate of $2.7 million would be about $300,000 shy of expectations. "The Y2K-related slowdown in financial institution signings in the fourth quarter was greater than we anticipated," said Matthew P. Lawlor, chief executive officer, in a statement.
"The silver lining is that with Y2K behind us we are now seeing an unusually large pipeline of potential sales for the upcoming year," said Mr. Lawlor, whose company will report earnings on Feb. 15.
Fiserv Inc., which will report its earnings after the close of business today, said last week that it had signed three outsourcing agreements, worth more than $50 million of combined annual revenue, at the end of 1999.
"We're seeing some significant momentum, now that the financial industry is no longer focused on Y2K," said Leslie M. Muma, Fiserv's vice chairman, president, and chief executive officer.
Concentrex also is expecting a thaw of the Y2K freeze. Salespeople at its annual meeting last week were "strong and bullish," Mr. Chamness said. Eight financial institutions are already using a home banking service bureau that Concentrex set up last November, he said, and 14 more have signed contracts to use it.
Concentrex reported a net loss of $4.71 million in the fourth quarter, compared with net income of $345,000 in the same quarter a year earlier. Its net loss in 1999 was $13.9 million, compared with net income of $3.9 million in 1998. Its stock closed at $8.125 a share on Friday, up 50 cents for the week.
"It was very much a Y2K issue," said Mr. Chamness, who acknowledged that his company underwent a number of changes last year, including the acquisitions of Meca Software LLC and Ultradata Corp., and the changing of its name from CFI ProServices to Concentrex. "These were revenue-induced losses based on flat sales," he said.
He explained that in the last two weeks of September a series of sales that senior bankers had approved were blocked by their institutions' chief executive officers. "It then became clear this would be an abnormal year," he said.
Concentrex was also "lulled to sleep" by a "surprisingly high balloon" of sales in the second quarter. "At the end of the third quarter, the door slammed shut and stayed shut," Mr. Chamness said.
Concentrex's fastest-growing businesses are electronic commerce and host processing, which give the company a more predictable, recurring revenue stream, said Kurt Ruttum, chief financial officer.
About half the company's revenue comes from the old CFI product line of loan origination and branch automation software, which was hard hit by the Y2K slowdown, Mr. Chamness said. About 40% of revenues comes from core processing and 12% from electronic commerce. Concentrex has about 5,000 financial institution customers.