Aspen Technology, Inc. :AZPN-US: Earnings Analysis: Q3, 2017 By the Numbers : May 8, 2017

Aspen Technology, Inc. reports financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2017.

We analyze the earnings along side the following peers of Aspen Technology, Inc. – Rockwell Automation, Inc., PTC Inc., SAP SE Sponsored ADR, Honeywell International Inc. and General Electric Company (ROK-US, PTC-US, SAP-US, HON-US and GE-US) that have also reported for this period.


  • Summary numbers: Revenues of USD 119.28 million, Net Earnings of USD 35.83 million.
  • Gross margins narrowed from 89.92% to 89.72% compared to the same period last year, operating (EBITDA) margins now 45.24% from 47.29%.
  • Year-on-year change in operating cash flow of -20.23% is about the same as the change in earnings, likely no significant movement in accruals or reserves.
  • Earnings growth due to contribution of one-time items.

The table below shows the preliminary results and recent trends for key metrics such as revenues and net income growth:

2017-03-31 2016-12-31 2016-09-30 2016-06-30 2016-03-31
Relevant Numbers (Quarterly)
Revenues (mil) 119.28 119.93 120.05 113.68 119.22
Revenue Growth (%YOY) 0.05 0.66 -0.2 -0.44 7.11
Earnings (mil) 35.83 37.01 35 33.33 33.17
Earnings Growth (%YOY) 8.03 0.89 -4.82 8.18 17.75
Net Margin (%) 30.04 30.86 29.15 29.32 27.82
EPS 0.47 0.48 0.44 0.41 0.4
Return on Equity (%) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Return on Assets (%) 56.07 53.13 39.45 31.03 37.07

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Market Share Versus Profits

Revenues History
Earnings History

AZPN-US‘s change in revenue this period compared to the same period last year of 0.05% is almost the same as its change in earnings, and is about average among the announced results thus far in its peer group, suggesting that AZPN-US is holding onto its market share. Also, for comparison purposes, revenues changed by -0.55% and earnings by -3.18% compared to the immediate last period.

Revenues Growth Versus Earnings Growth

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Leader, Earnings Focus, Laggard, Revenues Focus

Earnings Growth Analysis

The company’s earnings rose year-on-year. But this growth has not come as a result of improvement in gross margins or any cost control activities in its operations. Gross margins went from 89.72% to 89.92% for the same period last year, while operating margins (EBITDA margins) went from 45.24% to 47.29% over the same time frame.

Gross Margin Versus EBITDA Margin

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Differentiated; Low Cost, Commodity; Low Cost, Commodity; High Cost, Differentiated; High Cost

Gross Margin Trend

Companies sometimes sacrifice improvements in revenues and margins in order to extend friendlier terms to customers and vendors. Capital Cube probes for such activity by comparing the changes in gross margins with any changes in working capital. If the gross margins improved without a worsening of working capital, it is possible that the company’s performance is a result of truly delivering in the marketplace and not simply an accounting prop-up using the balance sheet.

Gross Margin History
Working Capital Days History

AZPN-US‘s decline in gross margins were offset by some improvements on the balance sheet. The management of working capital, for example, shows progress. The company’s working capital days have fallen to -193.33 days from -9.83 days for the same period last year. This leads Capital Cube to conclude that the gross margin decline is not altogether bad.

Gross Margin Versus Working Capital Days

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Customer Financed, Cash Starved, Supplier Financed, Cash Rich

Cash Versus Earnings – Sustainable Performance?

It is important to examine a company�s cash versus earnings numbers to gauge whether its performance is sustainable.

AZPN-US‘s change in operating cash flow of -20.23% compared to the same period last year is about the same as its change in earnings this period. Additionally, this change in operating cash flow is about average among its peer group. This suggests that the company did not use accruals or reserves to manage earnings this period, and that, all else being equal, the earnings number is sustainable.

Operating Cash Flow Growth Versus Earnings Growth

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Cash Flow based Earnings, Likely Non-cash Earnings, Low Cash Flow Base, Likely Undeclared Earnings


The company’s operating (EBIT) margins contracted from 46.03% to 43.82%. In spite of this, the company’s earnings rose. This was influenced primarily by one-time items, which improved pretax margins from 40.06% to 43.12%.

EBIT Margin Versus PreTax Margin

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Operation driven Earnings, One-time Favorables, Low Earnings Base, One-time Unfavorables
EBIT Margin History
PreTax Margin History

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Company Profile

Aspen Technology, Inc. engages in the provision of process optimization software solutions designed to manage and optimize plant and process design, operational performance, and supply chain planning. The company’s aspenONE software and related services have been developed specifically for companies in the process industries, including the energy, chemicals, and engineering and construction industries. It operates through the following segments: Subscription & Software, and Services. The Subscription & Software segment engages in the licensing of process optimization software solutions and associated support services. The Services segment includes professional services and training. The company was founded by Lawrence B. Evans in 1981 and is headquartered in Bedford, MA.

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