Win some, lose some

Sybase CEO John Chen baffled by investors reaction to his first quarter, as he moves forward on the database and software maker's big bet on mobile.

Database and mobile software maker Sybase reported its first quarter results Thursday. Pro forma earnings reached 27 cents a share, beating Wall Street analysts' estimates by a penny.

That's the good news.

Revenues, however were slightly weaker than what Wall Street soothsayers were expecting, coming in at $230 million, verses their expectations of $231.6 million. The company's stock got punished, falling 6.8 percent to $24.42 a share at the close.

That's the bad news.

John Chen, Sybase's CEO, says he's baffled by the street's reaction, given that revenues overall were up 18 percent over the same period last year and the company's growth driver ? mobile software ? rose by double digits.

Sybase is making a big bet on mobile, with its most recent move including a $397 million cash acquisition of Mobile 365 last November, according to a report in The Street.com. With that deal, Sybase got into the mobile messaging service business and racked up $31 million in messaging revenue during its first full quarter, as it sent over 17 billion messages across its Sybase 365 network.

But analysts say the whole messaging industry is experiencing tremendous volume and growth and the real key for Sybase, as well as others, will be to keep their pricing from undergoing commoditization.

Chen says he's walking into this industry with his "eyes wide open" and he has a few strategies up his proverbial sleeve to offset pricing pressures. One strategy calls for leveraging other Sybase businesses, such as its analytics platform, to deliver more mobile services than its competitors.

And over the next five years, he hopes to have his mobile business account for half of Sybase's total revenues. Currently, 25 percent comes from mobile and remainder from its database business.

In the next three to five years, Chen says he'll know if his strategy to link the two pillars of his business is working. The countdown has begun.

 

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