By Steven Scheer
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli software provider Nice Systems expects revenue to expand by as much as 9 percent this year, helped by growing demand from financial firms eager to step up security.
Nice has seen slowing growth of systems helping call centers and surveillance of buildings and transport networks. Its analytical tools meanwhile, which allow companies to delve into large amounts of data to spot fraud and fend off security threats, were growing much faster.
"The more we see regulation in the banking industry, the more we benefit," Chief Financial Officer Dafna Gruber said after the company delivered higher fourth quarter results in line with expectations on Wednesday. "Our business is gradually shifting to providing analytics-based applications."
Such products comprised more than 50 percent of Nice's fourth-quarter sales and nearly half of 2013 revenue. Some 60 percent of its sales are in North America, largely to big financial services firms.
Nice projects 2014 revenue of $1.01 billion to $1.035 billion and adjusted EPS of $2.73 to $2.85. It earned $2.58 in 2013, while revenue grew 6.6 percent to $951 million.
Analysts forecast EPS of $2.83 in 2014 on revenue of $1.02 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Nice said it would buy back up to $100 million more of its shares after a similar program was almost completed in January. Nice declared a quarterly dividend of 16 cents a share, unchanged from the first three quarters.
The results came a day after Nice said Barak Eilam - the head of its Americas business - will take over as chief executive by the end of April. He will replace Zeevi Bregman.
CEO Gruber said Nice would address boosting its dividend payments given that it has cash of $443 million. She added that part of the money would go towards pursuing acquisitions.
Nice's Nasdaq-listed shares were up 0.3 percent at $38.78 in morning trade, off a year high of $42.55 on January 16. But they are down 4.5 percent so far in 2014 after rising 22.3 percent in 2013.
In the fourth quarter, Nice earned 75 cents a share excluding one-time items, in line with expectations and up from 70 cents a year earlier.
Revenue grew 13 percent to a record $271 million, above a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S/ estimate of $264.5 million.
"As we enter 2014, we expect another year of profitable growth driven by strong market demand for our products and technology and a healthy backlog and sales pipeline," Bregman said.
For the first quarter, Nice sees revenue of $230-$240 million and EPS ex-items of 58 to 63 cents.
It said 2014 estimates take into account higher corporate taxes, which will have a negative impact of 10 cents a share.
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)