Gartner Acquiries AMR Research for $64m

12/1/09 7:01 am PT – Initial post. Analysis to follow.

12/1/09 11:38 am PT – Analysis added

12/2/09 7:00 am PT – Free SageCircle webinar on acquisition

Replay of the webinar “SageCircle Analysis of Gartner’s acquisition of AMR Research” is now available. To receive a link and password to watch a streaming version of the webinar please email “info [at] sagecircle [dot] com”. Please include your job title and company name

Gartner’s acquisition of AMR Research for $64m, approximately 1.5x revenues, is interesting in that it does not seem to fit neatly into any one of these rationales: 

  1. Additive to expand research coverage, consulting, events and other services
  2. Acquire client base
  3. Acquire sales representatives
  4. Take out direct competition to improve pricing power
  5. Prevent competition from grabbing an asset that would be used against Gartner

First:

Approximately 75% of AMR’s enterprise clients were in manufacturing/supply chain which is not consistent with Gartner’s core CIO organization. Gartner CEO Gene Hall has doubled down on IT since taking over in 2004 and eliminated non-IT focused business such as Vision Events. So does this represent a change in strategy? Perhaps the Datamonitor-Ovum strategy of going after both business and IT leaders has caused Hall to modify his approach?

AMR is primarily focused on ERP/enterprise applications, manufacturing, supply chain, retail, and sourcing. While Gartner does have some overlap, it is very uneven from one area to another. While Gartner does have a manufacturing vertical, the number of analysts is small, only seven. Furthermore, Gartner does not have brand equity in the manufacturing space so acquiring AMR manufacturing assets makes sense. Gartner’s retail analysts number just six so combining those with AMR’s analysts also makes sense. However, AMR has lost one of its top retail analysts, Janet Sherlock, just this week. Sourcing is an area that is one of Gartner’s strengths with 40 analysts listed in that space. AMR’s sourcing research took a huge blow when Phil Fersht left in late September so that particular area might not be of interest to Gartner. ERP and supply chain are grouped together at Gartner with 27 analysts. While Gartner has a strong reputation in enterprise applications, including ERP, it has less of a brand in supply chain so combining AMR supply research would be logical.

AMR’s event business is tiny in comparison to Gartner’s with only two or three targeted events per year with approximately 500 to 700 attendees each. Even if Gartner wanted to expand into other types of enterprise clients, it would not have to buy AMR to launch these types of events.

Enhancing Gartner’s advisory/consulting assets might be a possible motivation. As published research becomes more and more commoditized, enterprise clients turn to analyst firms for personalized advice and targeted consulting. Gartner has kept its analyst team relatively constant at 650 even as it has more than doubled the sales force to 952 since late 2004 (according to Continue reading

Gartner Q3 2009 earnings

This analysis does not look at areas of interest to investors, but seeks to pull out insights that are relevant to clients and prospects of the “Big Two” advisory analyst firms as well as communications and IT vendor analyst relations (AR) teams.  

logo-gartner.gifGartner, Inc. (NYSE:IT) announced its Q3 2009 earnings on October 30, 2009. See the end of this blog post for a summary and link to the press release.

In general Gartner’s results were much as expected at this point in a recession. All the key statistics were down year-over-year, but improved (i.e., less bad) quarter-to-quarter sequentially. All statistics are year-over-year and are FX neutral unless noted.

  • Overall revenues: $267.5m, down 7%.
  • Research: $187.7m, down 4%.
  • Events: $16m, down 6%.
  • Consulting: $65.7m, down 16%.

Demonstrating that a well-managed advisory analyst firm can be a cash machine, Gartner generated $55.1m in cash in Q3, only a half-million below Q3 2008. For the full year, Gartner raised its guidance on cash flow to $125m to $135m. Cash and equivalents at the end Q3 2009 was $113m, down from $141m at the end of Q3 2008. During the first nine months of 2009, Gartner primarily used cash to repay $151m in debt. Gartner retains $250m in available credit, which with the $113m in cash should give it the necessary resources to maintain its business as well as conduct M&A activity. On the M&A front, CEO Hall maintained the position that M&A opportunities are being constantly evaluated, but unlike Forrester, who mentioned it was actively evaluating potential deals, he provided no color to that remark.

Pricing

In his remarks CEO Gene Hall mentioned that Gartner’s most recent price increase was holding. Hall also said that Gartner was implementing a price increase on November 1, 2009. Yes, Gartner has been and continues to raise prices even in a recession. This can be attributed to Continue reading

If you are going to Gartner Symposium, go to the AR Forums

logo-gartner.gifSageCircle highly recommends that AR professionals attending Gartner’s Fall Symposia in either Orlando or Cannes go to the AR Forums. This is the opportunity to ask tough questions of Gartner’s CEO and CRO. While some AR professionals express frustrations that Gartner does not immediately do what they ask for in these meetings, the AR Forum is a venue to get the issues on the table and in public.

___ email from Gartner ___ Continue reading

Using five rights to avoid a wrong when it comes to purchasing Gartner or Forrester services

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You can minimize analyst firm price hikes by buying the right services from the right firms at the right price.  This post is the first entry in a series* that will discuss how buyers of industry analyst services can manage their analyst contracts and minimize the impact of price hikes on their budgets.

Since Gene Hall took over as Gartner’s CEO in August 2004, he has diligently worked to raise Gartner’s ASP (average selling price) by eliminating discounts, enterprise-wide agreements and competitors while instituting price hikes for legacy products and launching new premium services. Under the cover that Gartner offers, other firms – especially Forrester – have been raising their prices as well. While it is entirely the firms’ right to price their products as high as the market will bear, these price increases are putting a burden on clients’ budgets. As a consequence, IT managers and vendor market research buyers need to carefully evaluate their analyst services purchasing decisions to ensure that they are maximizing the return on their purchase.

There is the old saying in the US and perhaps elsewhere that “two wrongs do not make a right.” For this series, we are going to flip that saying around with the idea that “five rights avoid a wrong.” The right actions that analyst services buyers need to take are: 

  • Right reasons – Evaluate why you are purchasing analyst services
  • Right services – Align the services you buy to better match the Continue reading
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