Nuance Communications can help you see the subtle differences in both speech and images. The company provides speech and digital imaging software. Its speech products include speech recognition systems used to provide customer service, embedded systems used in applications ranging from automobiles to consumer electronics, and dictation systems. Nuance's digital imaging line includes document creation, editing, and conversion tools. The company sells directly and through distributors, resellers, systems integrators, and telecom carriers. Its key markets include financial services, government, health care, and telecommunications. Nuance generates nearly 30% of sales outside the US.
In 2011 Nuance reorganized its segment configuration into four groups: healthcare, mobile and consumer, enterprise, and imaging. Its healthcare segment (around 40% of sales) includes dictation and transcription software for medical information management while its mobile and consumer segment (nearly 30% of sales) includes voice command, speech-to-text, and other software for mobile devices and computers. The company provides customer identification, authentication, and authorization software, as well as document imaging and print management software, through its two other segments.
In fiscal 2011, revenues rose about 18% and net income moved into positive territory for the first time since 2002, a result of double-digit growth in three of its four segments. Revenues for its mobile and consumer segment were up 27% on strong embedded handset and automotive product sales. Imaging rose 26% as a result of multi-functional peripheral (MFP) product sales, while healthcare rose 17%, thanks in part to healthy demand for Dragon Medical products. Enterprise sales were flat.
An aggressive acquisition strategy has been among the keys to Nuance's success. The company continues to strengthen its product offerings and expand its geographic reach via acquisitions, targeting Asia and Latin America, among other regions, for growth.
To build its health care business, the company bought Webmedx, a provider of transcription and editing services for hospitals and clinics, in 2011. As part of a plan to consolidate the company's healthcare brands, Nuance is discontinuing the Dictaphone brand. In 2012, it acquired J.A. Thomas and Associates, which provides clinical documentation improvement services.
Also in 2011 Nuance expanded its document imaging business when it bought Equitrac, a maker of print management and cost recovery software, for about $157 million. The acquisition bolstered its print product portfolio and strengthened its offerings in key vertical markets -- specifically health care, finance, legal, government, and education -- where both companies have a significant presence. Equitrac will be integrated into eCopy to strengthen cross-platform managed print services by large global enterprises.
Additionally in 2011 Nuance acquired Germany-based SVOX to support its effort to develop products for enabling communication between automobiles and wireless devices. SVOX specialized in voice services for in-car electronics systems and other consumer electronics products. The same year Nuance boosted its business in interactive speech-recognition software with the acquisition of Telecom Italia subsidiary Loquendo, which provides such products as Loquendo Text to Speech and VoxNatura.
In 2012 Nuance acquired smaller rival Vlingo, also based in Massachusetts, which offers technology that allows voice commands to perform many manual device functions, such as locating a restaurant or updating social network content. The deal comes after three years of lawsuits between the companies. Also that year Nuance bought Transcend Services, a provider of medical transcription and speech editing services, for about $300 million, and it agreed to buy Ditech Networks for $22.5 million.
As another strategy for growth, the company is expanding its expertise to meet more demands of such markets as mobile-device manufacturing, healthcare, telecommunications, financial services, and government. Nuance has about 2,300 patents and some 1,500 patent applications. Generally, the company plans to increase the share of products sold on a subscription basis to create a more stable revenue stream.
Warburg Pincus owns about a 23% stake in the company. – less