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. It serves clients worldwide in a range of industries, including financial services, government, healthcare, and telecommunications; the company generates most of its sales in 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 other two segments.
Nuance generates about 70% of its sales from the US. Internationally, it has principal locations in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and the UK.
Sales and Marketing
The company sells directly and through distributors, resellers, systems integrators, and telecom carriers. Distribution and reseller partners across all segments include Allscripts, Amazon, Avaya, Best Buy, Cerner, Cisco, Clarion, HP, Rovi, and Xerox, while customers include Apple, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Ford, Garmin, Kaiser Permanente, Sharp, Toyota, Verizon, Walt Disney, Wells Fargo, and WellSpan.
Nuance has a history of strong revenue growth. In fiscal 2012 (ended September), revenue rose about 25% to $1.7 billion and net income more than quadrupled to $207 million (after moving into positive territory in 2011 for the first time since 2002). It saw double-digit growth in all four of its segments, including nearly 30% each in healthcare (due to on-demand services), mobile and consumer (due to embedded products), and imaging (due to the acquisition of Equitrac). Its enterprise segment grew more than 10%, driven by the acquisition of Loquendo.
Mergers and Acquisitions
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.
To build its health care business, the company bought Webmedx, a provider of transcription and editing services for hospitals and clinics, in 2011. In 2012, it acquired J.A. Thomas and Associates, which provides clinical documentation improvement services, and agreed to buy the health information management business of QuadraMed.
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. Later that year it acquired Germany-based SVOX (to support its effort to develop products for enabling communication between automobiles and wireless devices) and Telecom Italia subsidiary Loquendo (to boost its business in interactive speech-recognition software).
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.
Directors Patrick Hackett and William Janeway together control about 18% of the company through investment firm Warburg Pincus. Mutual fund manager T. Rowe Price owns about 12%.