Business software company SAS said today that its revenue increased 5.2 percent last year as IT spending picked up and more companies turn to analytics to improve performance.
SAS, which makes business intelligence and analytics software that is used to analyze operations and forecast trends, said 2010 revenues totaled $2.43 billion.
The growth was largely driven by the company's business analytics group, which saw revenue increase 26 percent.
SAS is a private company and doesn't release detailed financial information. The company typically releases its annual revenue numbers.
Revenue growth in 2010 was more than double that in 2009.
SAS' workforce in North Carolina increased 4.2 percent -- the company now employs 4,611 at its Cary headquarters. Global head count grew by 2.4 percent to 11,489.
"We are seeing corporations loosening up their budgets," said Jim Davis, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, in an interview this morning. "The economy feels very differently than it did 12 to 18 months ago."
Davis said the company expects to grow at a similar pace in 2011.
"We certainly don't have hiring freeze on," he said. "We are hiring in those areas where we see growth."
Davis said one of the byproducts of the economic downturn has been a growing realization among corporate leaders of the importance of analytics.
"The economy's been good to us in that respect," he said. "That's sort of the silver lining to the dark economic cloud."
The financial crisis, and the problems experienced by the world's banks, has also led to an increase in business.
"Transparency is a requirement and no longer an option and risk calculation and the work we do there really helps out," Davis said.
About 42 percent of SAS' revenue comes from financial and insurance companies.
SAS is also investing heavily to help state and local governments curb fraud and abuse. The company announced last month that it was creating a new SAS Analytics Lab for State and Local Government.
The employees, most of them to be located at the company's Cary headquarters, will develop new products as well as work with government agencies on projects tailored to their needs.
Davis said globalization, and the pressure that the recession has put on nearly all businesses operating margins, has forced companies to change the way they operate.
"The pace at which things are changing in the market today, people can not just sit back and expect that they can weather the storm," he said. "They've got to invest and I think they're finally realizing that."
SAS has been profitable since it was founded in 1976. The company now has more than a billion dollars in cash on hand and no debt.
Davis said SAS invests about 20 percent of its revenue back into research and development. It will continue to seek out possible acquisition targets.
"With a hot market comes consolidation and we feel like we're in good shape to take advantage of any consolidation opportunities," he said.