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Canada’s 10 Most Interesting Software Stocks; Part 2

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Almost, but not quite. Art Mesher saved Descartes Systems from the scrapheap of dot-bomb deals like Pets.com
Almost, but not quite. Art Mesher saved Descartes Systems from the scrapheap of dot-bomb deals like Pets.com

6. Descartes Systems (TSX:DSG)

To the casual observer, Descartes Systems, at one time, looked ready to join pets.com and GovWorks on the scrapheap of dot-bombs. Shares of the Waterloo based company soared to $130 a share early in 2000 before crashing to just over a dollar a few years later. Art Mesher, who was an analyst for Gartner at the time was approached by Descartes board for input. Mesher and quickly diagnosed the company as a “terminal”. case. The board challenged Mesher to come aboard and help fix the company which, perhaps surprisingly, he did. Mesher then proceeded to fire the entire sales force, a move he felt eas necessary to change the culture of the company, which he said had become focused on sales and not the customer. Today Descartes is a leader in global global logistics technology with revenue that has grown to near $100 million in fiscal 2011 from just $59 million in 2008.

Descartes now finds itself at the cutting edge of a trend; across the globe governments are looking to untangle and standardize their logistics operations. An increasing amount of evidence suggests a clear link between logistics performance and economics growth. The World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index showed that low and middle income countries such as Brazil and Columbia have given their economies a shot in the arm through improved logistics, while other emerging economies, such as Turkey, have been hurt by a lack of logistics infrastructure.

7. Enghouse Systems (TSX:ESL)

Telecom solutions provider Enghouse has been around since 1984, but appears to now be hitting its stride. Markham based Enghouse provides software solutions for the most complex of call centers, managing customer interactions for banks, utilities and insurance companies. The Company has never been a market darling, but its bottom line performance have the stock at decade highs. The Company has grown its revenue from $55 million in fiscal 2007 to $94 million in 2010, and is extremely profitable; in the first quarter 2011 Enghouse earned $3.11-million on revenues of $28.6 million.

8. QHR Technologies (TSXV:QHR)

Implementation. When technology solutions enter the public conversation, the assumption is that their practical use is not far off. Actual progress, for a myriad of reasons, is often much slower. Nowhere does this apply more than healthcare. Research firm Forrester estimates that the paper based health information “wastes hundreds of billions of dollars annually.” But transforming from paper charts to a digital 21st century healthcare systems is not an overnight fix. Although still small, Kelowna’s QHR Technologies has become an aggressive consolidator in the electronic medical records space. QHR’s recent acquisition of EMIS Inc, the Canadian division of the Leeds based Egton Medical Information Systems, the U.K.’s largest vendor of electronic medical records, was the company’s eleventh acquisition in the past eight years. QHR is clearly gaining critical mass; revenue for the first nine months of fiscal 2010 was $14.4 million, which beat the company’s 2009 numbers for all of fiscal 2009 handily, and nearly tripled 2006 revenue of $4.72 million.

9. Redknee (TSX:RKN)

Ever get a cell phone bill in the mail that felt a little heavy? An estimated one in six mobile users know the feeling of a bill that is a lot larger than they expected. The phenomenon is so common that the US Federal Government has gotten involved. The Cell Phone Bill Shock Act of 2010 would require carriers to notify customers by email or text message, free of charge, when they have used 80 percent of their monthly limits. Of course, in order to notify you that you have hit this mark the carrier itself has to be aware of it. Redknee’s (TSX:RKN) billing solutions run the gamut from the customer side to helping service providers better monitor, understand and monetize their subscriber base. Founded in the solarium of Lucas Skoczkowski’s apartment in 1999, Redknee now does more than $50 million in revenue annually and boasts clients such as Microsoft and Cisco. Recently, Cantech Letter talked to Scoczkowski about an eventful decade plus for the company he founded and still leads.

10. Automated Benefits Corp (TSXV:AUT)

According to Forrester Research, the US insurance industry represents 3.2% of the country’s Gross Domestic product, but is plagued by a state and federal regulatory tangle that stifles its growth. In a recent report, Forrester says the need to comply with fifty-one regulatory bodies creates “a number of gaps that technology vendor strategists can step in to fill”.

Toronto’s Automated Benefits Corp. is an early candidate to fill some of those gaps. Automated, which is divided into two operating divisions, Automated Benefits Inc., which develops software to improve health and dental claims, and Symbility Solutions, which focuses on property claims. Symbility speeds up property claims and makes the process more transparent by giving every claim participant real-time access and collaborative tools. The Company recently signed a multi-year deal with the Farmers Insurance Exchange, who are now training six hundred field adjusters on Symbility software.

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About The Author /

Nick Waddell
Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.

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One thought on “Canada’s 10 Most Interesting Software Stocks; Part 2

  1. How is Route1 (V.ROI) not on this list? A Canadian company used and endorsed by the US Military and Dept of Homeland Security, it’s patented Mobikey is unbeatable. The data never leaves the office and that answers most of the data corrupting scenarios we see today. Financially they are past break even with no debt and routinely over 90% gross profit. They are printing money. I’m sure they were overlooked by mistake.

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