By now, you’ve likely heard the news on printer vendor Lexmark by Perceptive Software for $280 million in cash. At first glance, this seemed like a pretty high price, but, as Perceptive’s revenue was $84 million last year, on growth of 20%, it really represents a gross price of three and one-third times revenue, which is similar to what Hyland Software, probably Perceptive’s closest competitor, was priced at when a majority stake was sold to the equity investment firm Thoma Cressey Bravo in 2007. FileNet received a similar multiple from IBM in 2006.
The acquisition is another case of a hardware vendor using its cash reserves to diversify into the higher margin software business. Dicom buying Kofax is probably the most famous example of this in our industry, but Cornerstone buying Pixel Translations, which became InputAccel, is another successful example. Even EMC buying Documentum kind of represents this. Of course, there have been failures, like Scan-Optics buying Southern Computer.
More analysis on this acquisition in our premium newsletter, but we will make one comment: Lexmark is headquarterd in Lexington and Perceptive near Kansas City, so there shouldn’t be a huge culture shock, which is good.