Pitney Bowes (PBI) is an international provider of mail-handling equipment and services that is trying to reshape itself for increasingly paperless commerce and communication.
The durable company, incorporated as a provider of postal meters in 1920, has diversified in digital directions to complement its core business of leasing meters and financing their sale to businesses in the United States and abroad.
The Stamford, Conn. company now provides hardware, software, and services to help companies handle digital communication and document management as well as their mail. Pitney has locations in more than 100 countries and employs more than 30,000 workers.
Pitney guided investors in July by forecasting that its diluted earnings per share from continuing operations this year will range from $1.80 to $2.10. That would compare with $1.51 last year and $2.09 in 2009.
Total revenue in the January to June period was $2.63 billion, a slight decline from same period last year. But net income in the first half jumped to $187 million, up 33 percent from the same period last year, despite the flat revenue. Earnings per diluted share in the first half rose to 92 cents from 68 cents.
Much of the increased profit came from bigger savings. Pitney cut its total costs and expenses in the first half to $2.34 billion, $37.5 million lighter than in last year's first half.
Pressure on the top line of the company's income statement has persisted in recent years, a reflection of Pitney's legacy dependency on the postal market in the age of the Internet.
The company reported consecutive year-over-year declines in revenue in 2010 and 2009. Revenue totaled $5.42 billion last year, down about 2.5 percent from 2009, while net income dropped to $292 million, down 31 percent.
Pitney had a small and mostly neutral following among securities analysts in early August, when a majority of them had hold ratings on the company's stock.
Among the competitive threats that Pitney faces is Stamps.com (STMP), a Los Angeles company that allows customers with a computer and a printer to buy postage online.
In the business market, "customers continue to be attracted to us versus postage meter based (services) based on our dramatically lower total cost of ownership," said Stamps.com president and chief executive officer Ken McBride, speaking July 28 on the company's second-quarter conference call with stock analysts.
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