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SciQuest analysts issue bullish reports

Skeptics sometimes say that Wall Street analysts are predictable animals that follow the pack. True cynics argue that their advice is best avoided.

With that said, it's still worth noting that on Wednesday, like clockwork, analysts from the four investment banks that took SciQuest public in September came out with initial ratings on the Cary technology company. They're required by securities regulations to wait 40 days after an IPO before releasing any reports.

Not surprisingly, all four say SciQuest's stock is a smart buy. Three of the analysts predict it will rise to $15, based on the company's healthy profit and revenue growth.

The shares, which began trading at $9.50 each, rose 83 cents today to $12.34.

SAS adding workers as sales rise

The revenue growth business software company SAS is seeing this year is being powered by new customers and existing customers buying new products.

Such "new sales" are experiencing "strong, double-digit growth" worldwide, including more than 20 percent in the U.S., chief marketing officer Jim Davis told a group of two dozen journalists this morning during the company's annual media day at its Cary headquarters.

Overall, SAS expects sales -- including renewal of existing software contracts -- to increase 5 percent this year, more than double the 2.2 percent growth of last year, when the recession put a damper on new sales.

SAS seeing sales surge, Goodnight says

SAS has seen a surge of business in the third quarter that puts the company on track for a 5 percent revenue gain this year.
 
Jim Goodnight, the co-founder and CEO of the Cary business-analytic software company, told the Reuters news service that global demand has picked up for the company's data-mining products, especially in Latin America and Asia.
 
Goodnight talked to Reuters during a break Friday at a meeting in Chicago of the Business Council. Goodnight is a member of the association, which includes more than 100 CEOs at major corporations.
 
SAS was founded three decades ago and has made a profit in every year of its existence, weathering the recession while other high-tech companies downsized or capsized. Last year, the company generated $2.31 billion in revenue, up 2.2 percent from the year before.

iContact hires veteran tech executive

Armed with $40 million in private financing it recently raised, Durham e-mail marketing company iContact is beefing up its management team.

The company announced this morning that it hired Jeff Revoy as its chief product, marketing and strategy officer.

Revoy, 43, previously was president of interactive services at Embarq, the telecommunications company that was acquired by CenturyLink. He also worked for Yahoo, and helped run the Internet search company's European business.

iContact officials have said they plan to use some of the money raised for international expansion.

“Jeff’s significant strategic leadership experience with both early stage and established technology companies makes him an excellent choice for this position,” said iContact CEO and co-founder Ryan Allis, in a prepared statement. “His background running an international business will also be an asset as iContact looks to expand to new markets overseas.”

The company is preparing to move into a larger headquarters in Morrisville this month, and now employs more than 230 people.

Carrboro team among top young entrepreneurs

The founders of a Carrboro company that creates websites for politicians, businesses and nonprofits have been named by Businessweek.com among America's best young entrepreneurs.

It's a nice, national plug for the team that started New Media Campaigns while at UNC Chapel Hill in 2006: Joel Sutherland, 25; Clay Schossow, 24; and Kris Jordan, 25.

But the trio could win more glory. The magazine named 25 entrepreneurs or companies as finalists, and is letting readers vote for their favorites through Oct. 21. Six winners will be announced on Oct. 28.

"In our own circle we're fairly well known, but it's nice to get recognition outside our circle," Sutherland, the company's president, said in a phone interview today.

Raleigh's Meeker is ready for fight to keep Red Hat

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker isn't ready to give up Red Hat without a fight.

The software company is checking out large office space in other cities, fueling speculation that it might move its headquarters away from N.C. State's Centennial Campus. But Meeker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he's eager to keep the company in Raleigh.

“We have heard Atlanta, Austin [Texas] and Boston, as well as Raleigh,” he told the newspaper. “They are a significant company here in Raleigh and have been very successful despite the recession. My understanding is they are reviewing states for their incentives and work force. We’re working hard with the state of North Carolina and are very anxious that the company stays here.”

Losing Red Hat, one of this region's most successful technology companies, would be a major loss for the Triangle. As the AJC newspaper points out, winning the company "would be a huge feather in metro Atlanta’s fedora."

iContact is ready to party

To celebrate raising $40 million for continued expansion, Durham technology company iContact is busting out BBQ, blue grass and more.

Company officials will hold a party this afternoon for employees, investors, customers and others at their Durham offices. More than 450 people have RSVPed.

The festivities will run from 4 to 7 p.m., and include face painting, balloon animals, a magician, a bouncy house and a dunk tank.  The word from iContact spokesman Chuck Hester is that wunderkind CEO Ryan Allis will get wet.

SciQuest sells 6 million shares in successful IPO

SciQuest employees start working for new bosses on Friday morning.

The Cary-based technology company held an initial public offering of stock late Thursday, raising $57 million before expenses. The shares, which sold for $9.50 each, are set to begin trading Friday morning on the Nasdaq under the symbol "SQI."

That means CEO Stephen Wiehe and SciQuest's other 180 employees will have to answer to public shareholders. Since every employee owns shares, they're also all a bit richer, at least on paper.

The deal is first IPO for a Triangle tech firm in years. Its success could draw more attention to this region and to other private tech firms interested in selling their stories to Wall Street.

SciQuest sold 6 million shares at $9.50 each. It had expected to sell shares between $9.50 and $11.50 each.

Red Hat reports stronger quarterly results

Red Hat reported another solid quarter, as the Raleigh software company continues to win new customers worldwide.

The company reported earnings per share of 19 cents for the quarter ended Aug. 31, beating Wall Street expectations by 1 cent. Revenue rose to $219.8 million, up 20 percent from a year earlier.

Red Hat hasn't missed earnings per share estimates for 23 straight quarters, reports Bloomberg News.

Company officials also raised their revenue expectations for the full year, to $877 million to $885 million, up from $835 million to $850 million.

Red Hat shares, up 45 percent in the past year, closed today at $36.75, down $1.68. In late trading after the earnings were released, the stock rose more than $1.

Red Hat earnings are safe bet

Red Hat earnings reports have become pretty predictable. And on Wall Street, boring is good.

The Raleigh software company is expected to report earnings per share of about 18 cents later today. Not one of the 23 analysts who follow Red Hat's stock expect anything less.

That's partly because of Red Hat's recent track record: It hasn't missed earnings per share estimates for 22 straight quarters, reports Bloomberg News. The company also has beat revenue estimates for 17 of the past 22 quarters, including the past five.

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