In July of 2016, Englewood, Colorado-based firm IHS and data and business research provider Markit engaged in a merger valued at more than $13 billion. Since then, the newly formed IHS Markit has continued to grow. Now it seems that the company has refilled its war chest with more mergers and acquisitions.
This growth is no surprise to those who initially invested in the company, including private equity firm General Atlantic.
“As a financial services industry leader, Markit is well positioned to deliver the independent, high-quality products and services that market participants need,” said IHS Markit board member William E. Ford of the initial investment in 2010.
The State of Wisconsin apparently agrees, since the state’s Investment Board bought 16,140 shares of IHS Markit stock during the first quarter of 2017, valued at approximately $6,905,000. In addition, World Asset Management increased its position in IHS Markit shares by 5 percent in the first quarter, and the State Board of Administration of the Florida Retirement System increased its position in the company’s stocks by more than 10 percent.
As another sign of IHS Markit’s growth, the company recently joined the S&P 500, pushing media company TEGNA down to the S&P MidCap 400.
IHS Markit is ensuring its growth by locking in clients on a longer-term basis via multi-year packages rather than subscriptions that expire after a year. This model also adds to the company’s efficiency because marketing staff will not have to follow up with subscribers year after year to secure renewals, and IT infrastructure can be consolidated as the newly-formed company moves to one large home office. Thus, it displays an uptrend in deferred revenue that could be used for acquisitions or to pay down debt.
But what types of companies could IHS Markit be eyeing as it considers more acquisitions? It acknowledged its weakness in analytics when compared with analytics start-ups and big technology companies, so it may be considering an acquisition along these lines in order to raise its competitiveness and complete its suite of services.
The company has also set aside cash for share repurchases. In 2017-2018, for example, IHS Markit plans to repurchase $2.2 billion worth of shares, and thereafter, $500 million is allocated annually.
IHS Markit expects to continue seeing cost-saving integrations, including right-sizing the staff to deal with the inevitable post-merger duplication of roles and positions.
According to Seeking Alpha, the share price of IHS Markit has “broken out of a triangular channel convincingly and is establishing a new uptrend. Any downside appears to be well supported by the rising 200-day moving average, which is now around $38.”
As long as management continues to grow its top line, Seeking Alpha expects that investors will “pile into the company shares.”