IHS Inc. (Information Handling Services Inc.) handles the hottest commodity around: information. A publisher of technical documents for clients in industries such as energy, defense, aerospace, electronics, and automotive, the company distributes its data in several electronic formats (Internet, intranet, extranet, CD-ROM). Products such as collections of technical specifications and standards, regulations, parts data, and design guides are sold through its four areas of information: Energy, Product Lifecycle, Security, and Environment. The company also offers economic-focused information and analysis through its IHS Global Insight subsidiary. IHS primarily earns revenue through subscription sales.
The company specializes in delivering information to engineers, designers, technical professionals, senior managers, compliance officers, marketing executives, and strategic planners at both small and large businesses, as well as goverment agencies. Topics range from detailed technical specifications to industry trends and geopolitical analysis.
IHS's Energy segment is focused on information related to all aspects of oil and gas exploration, development, production, and transportation, while its Product Lifecycle segment provides information on all areas of a product's development, including conception, research, production, maintenance, and disposal. The Security segment focuses on topics such as defense, aerospace, and weapon systems, and the Environment segment provides data to help customers comply with environmental regulations and related issues.
Subscription sales account for more than 75% of business. In 2011 the company achieved higher revenues compared to the previous year due to an increase in subscription sales. (It also reported a dip in net income due to pension-related costs, without which, net income would have increased.) Much of this increase in subscription sales is due to its acquisition activity, a key component of the company's growth strategy. IHS has completed more than 40 purchases since its IPO in 2005. The acquisitions reflect the firm's growth strategy of selecting information-intensive companies in industries in which it already has a significant presence, such as energy, defense, manufacturing, and technology.
In 2012 the company made a string of strategic acquisitions to enhance its capabilities in technology, media and telecommunications, electronic components, and energy. That year it acquired GlobalSpec, provider of a searchable online database of supplier catalogs for engineers, from Warburg Pincus for $135 million. IHS also purchased Displaybank, a provider of market research and consulting for the display industry; the Computer Assisted Product Selection electronic components database and tools business; and the digital oil and gas pipeline and infrastructure information business from Hild Technology Services. The combined purchase price of those three acquisitions was approximately $45 million.
IHS made its largest acquisition to date in 2011 when it purchased Seismic Micro-Technology, a provider of geoscience software, for $500 million in cash. The deal enabled IHS to provide information browsing and analysis tools for the oil and gas industry. Prior key acquisitions gave the company subsidiaries such as IHS Jane's (a provider of information and analysis on global defense and security) and IHS Global Insight (economic-focused research). And in 2011 the company formed IHS Chemical, in part from assets it acquired from Access Intelligence (business-to-business periodicals in the energy and chemical sectors, including Chemical Week and The Energy Daily).
All total, IHS operates in some 180 countries; nearly 50% of its sales are conducted outside of the US. The company's sales teams are organized to support three geographic segments: Americas; Europe, Middle East, and Africa; and the Asia/Pacific region.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza family controls about 25% of IHS.