SAS posts 40th consecutive year of revenue growth

Randy Guard
Randy Guard

Powered in part by the addition of more than 1,800 new business customers during the year, software giant SAS recorded a 2.3 percent growth in annual revenue in 2015 – or 6.4 percent after adjusting for currency fluctuations.

The rate of growth, which pushed revenue for the year to $3.16 billion, was identical to 2014 in U.S. dollars but was stronger – 6.4 percent versus 5.1 percent – after making adjustments for fluctuations in foreign currencies. The difference in the two revenue numbers is a reflection of the strong U.S. dollar, which depresses foreign sales.

“The currency obviously matters,” Randy Guard, the company’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview Monday at the company’s sprawling headquarters campus in Cary. “Sixty-some percent of our business is outside the U.S.” Europe, the Middle East and Africa accounted for 38 percent of revenue and Asia Pacific countries accounted for 13 percent in 2015.

SAS is privately owned but discloses its annual revenue. Guard also said that the company was profitable in 2015 but declined to provide specifics.

With the 2015 results, SAS extended its streak of posting annual revenue growth to 40 years – every year since it was founded in 1976. Corporations, government agencies and others use SAS business intelligence and analytics software to analyze their operations and forecast trends.

New software sales – that is, sales to brand-new customers or to existing customers who expand their use of SAS software – rose 8 percent in 2015, or 12 percent after adjusting for currency fluctuations. That included attracting more than 1,800 new customers, boosting total customer sites to 80,000 worldwide.

Software that helps customers manage risk and detect and minimize fraud were among the products that did especially well in 2015, both growing by double digits in constant currency.

“Risk had a fantastic year,” said Guard. He noted that risk software revenue rose 17 percent after adjusting for currency fluctuations, driven by financial industry regulations that include stress tests that assess how they would be impacted by an economic crisis.

The banking industry ranks first among SAS customers, accounting for 26 percent of revenue last year. Government was No. 2 at 15 percent.

Market research firm IDC’s latest report on the advanced and predictive analytics market put SAS’s market share at 33.3 percent.

“If you look at our market share, it is more than the next nine competitors” combined, Guard said. “We’re excited about that, but not complacent about that.”

SAS, he added, is working – and spending – to create innovative new products.

Last year SAS reinvested 25 percent of its revenue in research and development, up 1 percentage point from 2014 and, according to SAS, nearly double the percentage of annual revenue reinvested by most large technology companies.

SAS also boosted the number of employees at its Cary headquarters last year by 2 percent, or 107 workers, giving it a total of 5,460 employees locally. Its worldwide staff grew by 1 percent to 13,870.

The company currently has 152 job openings it is seeking to fill in Cary, up from 71 a year ago, Guard said.

To accommodate the company’s local growth, SAS expects to break ground this year on the construction of a previously announced nine-story building on its Cary campus. Guard said that construction of that 400,000-square-foot building, which will be able to house more than 1,000 employees, is expected to take two-and-a-half years.

Looking ahead, Guard isn’t making a forecast for 2016 beyond saying that he expects the company’s streak of annual revenue growth to continue.

“2016 looks good,” he said, noting that the company has a healthy pipeline of new business. “If you look at the business, you look at the markets we’re in, we’re going to grow.”

David Ranii: 919-829-4877, @dranii