3 Canadian Tech Darlings

Like Constellation Software, these tech companies have seen their shares skyrocket. What else do they have in common?

| More on:
The Motley Fool

While Constellation Software (TSX:CSU) shares continue to surge, the company is certainly not alone. There have been plenty of Canadian tech companies in the past three years that have yielded very impressive returns for shareholders.

Many of these share price gains have been fueled by hype about a new technology. Those kinds of bets are risky to make. But others, like Constellation, have been powered by profitable growth, and a real track record of creating value. Three in particular are worth highlighting.

Enghouse Systems

Enghouse Systems (TSX:ESL) provides software and services through three segments: Interactive Management, Transportation, and Networks. Growth has been impressive (revenue grew 32% in 2013), but even more importantly, it has been profitable. Excluding working capital items, Enghouse’s cash flow margins were nearly 25% last year.

Solium Capital

Solium Capital (TSX:SUM) sells software that helps companies run share ownership plans. Like Enghouse, growth has been impressive. In the first three quarters of 2013, revenue increased by 37% to $50 million. Solium is not quite as profitable as Enghouse, but still generated cash flow margins greater than 12%.

QHR Technologies

QHR Technologies (TSXV:QHR) provides software for the healthcare sector, mainly electronic medical records. It is a high-growth area, and QHR has certainly been taking advantage. Through the first three quarters of 2013, revenue growth was 18% and cash flow margins were 12%.

So what do these companies have in common?

Besides strong growth, margins, and management teams, the three companies share a lot in common. First, they all have high levels of recurring revenue. This can either come from subscriptions or maintenance contracts, but the important thing is that customers make regular payments. These payments tend to have high renewal rates, are very high margin, and are not overly dependent on just a few customers.

Secondly, the companies all generate a lot of cash. Normally one judges a company’s profits by its net income line. But these companies all have large non-cash expenses that depress net income. So it’s more useful to pay attention to cash flow.

Finally, the companies all have very expensive stock prices. Enghouse’s shares have tripled in just over two years. Solium’s have almost quintupled over the last three years. And QHR’s shares have tripled in a year and a half. On average, the three companies now trade at about four times revenue.

Foolish bottom line

These are all traits that Constellation Software has as well. So the success of these three companies can hardly be called a coincidence. And they certainly provide valuable lessons for anyone brave enough to invest in technology companies.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

More on Investing


CNR Stock: Should You Buy Today?

Canadian National Railway has been hit in recent quarters, as economic growth has slowed, with CNR stock declining 10% in…

Read more »

Family relationship with bond and care
Dividend Stocks

TFSA Investors: 3 Cheap Canadian Stocks for Retirees

These three Canadian stocks are super cheap for retirees looking for a great buy that will last the test of…

Read more »

calculate and analyze stock
Dividend Stocks

CPP Disability Benefits: Here’s How Much You Could Get

Not everybody can get CPP disability benefits. If you want some passive income, consider investing in Royal Bank of Canada…

Read more »

growing plant shoots on stacked coins
Dividend Stocks

Boosting Your Monthly Income: TSX Stocks That Deliver

Dividend investing can boost regular or active incomes, especially select TSX stocks that pay monthly dividends.

Read more »

consider the options
Tech Stocks

Better Buy (2024 Edition): Shopify or Nvidia Stock?

Shopify (TSX:SHOP) isn't the only red-hot tech stock in town that could add to recent gains.

Read more »

Bad apple with good apples

5 Stocks You Can Confidently Invest $500 in Right Now

These stocks could significantly grow your investment over the next decade.

Read more »

Illustration of bull and bear
Tech Stocks

A Bull Market Is Coming: 3 Growth Stocks That Could Thrive

Given their high growth prospects and cheaper valuation, these three growth stocks would be an excellent buy as the market…

Read more »

Golden crown on a red velvet background
Energy Stocks

Enbridge Stock: This Dividend Aristocrat Could Gain in 2024

Enbridge (TSX:ENB) stock is looking like a great buy as management expects it to grow in 2024.

Read more »