Geac Hopes To See System21 Shine Again Like 'Aurora'

Geac Hopes To See System21 Shine Again Like 'Aurora'
P.J. Jakovljevic - August 16, 2002

Event Summary

Lately, Geac Computer Corporation Limited (TSX: GAC), a large and until recently struggling Canadian supplier of enterprise management software, has indicated it might have finally gotten its ducks in the row not only has it posted a few stable and profitable quarters, but the company has also shown the intent to move away from its all but failed business model of selling maintenance and services for outdated applications. As a result, it has a number of recent new contract wins.

This note covers the following recent Geac announcements:

  • The Extensity and EBC Informatique acquisitions

  • A contract with ZPC Mieszko

  • A contract with Ghim Li Holdings Co Pte Ltd

  • Delivery of three new System21 products for automotive manufacturers

  • Further details on Project Aurora

  • Industry response to AnswerLink

  • Financial Results for fiscal year 2002

This is Part One of a three-part note on recent announcements by Geac.

Part Two will cover the Market Impact, and

Part Three will discuss the Challenges Geac faces and make User Recommendations.

Extensity and EBC Informatique

On August 29, Geac announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire the IBM e-Server iSeries software assets, customer agreements and employee base of EBC Informatique, a European hardware and software solutions provider, for a transaction valued at Euro 2.45 million. EBC Informatique's iSeries unit will be immediately integrated with Geac's Anael Solutions division in France. The acquisition will significantly expand Geac's substantial presence in France's financial management solutions market and will provide Geac with an opportunity to deliver new software, service and support offerings to hundreds of new Geac customers throughout the region.

Both Geac's Anael Solutions division and EBC Informatique's software suites share a common technology platform, the widely adopted and popular IBM e-Server iSeries, formerly known as the IBM AS/400. With similar market segments and technology platforms, the iSeries unit of EBC Informatique and Geac's Anael business unit should integrate easily, enabling both companies to provide immediate new value to their existing customers. Anael has approximately 1,800 customer implementations, principally in France, and Geac believes to be well positioned to license the new software suite to an expanded customer base.

Further, on August 26, Geac announced it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire Extensity, Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTN), an Emeryville, CA-based provider of Employee Relationship Management (ERM) solutions that automate employee-based financial processes, for an approximate price tag of $47 million. The acquisition, which follows a strategic alliance agreement signed by both companies in June of 2002, should immediately enhance Geac's suite of financial management solutions.

To date, Extensity has licensed more than 1,000,000 seats worldwide and possesses an impressive customer list (nearly 400) including, Cisco Systems, Chase J.P. Morgan, Merck, AstraZeneca and Office Depot. Moreover, the two companies already share several customers, including Alliance Capital Management and SUPERVALU, as well as a healthy prospect pipeline. Extensity has annualized revenue of $20 million, 175 employees, no debt and is expected to hold approximately $37 million in cash and cash equivalents at September 30, 2002, excluding transaction costs. Extensity's product suite targets a number of significant markets, including automated business travel and expense reporting, billable and payroll time capture, and procurement.

In a survey recently conducted by Geac, 73% of its customers reportedly responded that they would purchase additional applications from Geac if available. In particular, travel and expense management, and time capture applications were identified as products that would be of interest to customers. To that end, the Boards of Directors of both companies have received independent fairness opinions respecting the financial terms of the Extensity merger from third party financial institutions. BMO Nesbitt Burns provided the opinion to Geac, and Broadview International LLC advised Extensity, whereas CIBC World Markets also acted as financial advisor to Geac in connection with the transaction.

ZPC Mieszko

On August 8, Geac Enterprise Solutions (GES), a division of Geac Computer Corporation, announced that it has won a contract with ZPC Mieszko, one of Poland's leading manufacturers of sweets, biscuits and crackers. Mieszko has selected System21 Food, Geac's enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution designed specifically for the food industry, to help it effectively perform lot traceability and transport planning on over 50 dispatches made each day. The system, which should incorporate financials, distribution and manufacturing functional scope, is scheduled to be live by the end of 2002, and will be linked to an IBM iSeries server for 48 users within Mieszko.

The solution should also provide the company with highly pertinent quality management functionality including recipe and specification management, new product development, traceability and HACCP (Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points) with both EDI and Internet connectivity. Capabilities of System21 not found in Mieszko's prior ERP implementations include transport planning, lot traceability for finished goods, semi-finished products and raw materials, and the ability to issue goods according to FIFO (First In First Out) inventory convention. Mieszko also looks forward to introducing eCommerce and CRM applications in the future.

System21 Food should assist Mieszko with the following food industry endemic processes, specifically in the areas of packaging and goods packaging demand planning:

  • Perform lot traceability for finished goods, semi-finished products and raw materials

  • Produce quick customer identification as to where goods were sold

  • Identify raw materials for finished products

  • Manage expiry date control

  • Introduce more units of measure with conversion rates

  • Dispatch goods according to date of receipts

  • Introduce alternative technological production processes

  • Increase the number of outputs from production process

Owing to the support for the above functional requirement, System21 Food has been acknowledged as one of the leading products in the food industry and has helped hundreds of organizations such as Dairy Crest, Hygrade Foods, Lindt & Sprungli and Freshbake Foods grow their businesses and benefit from the integration of Geac ERP solutions.

Ghim Li Holdings Co Pte Ltd

On July 31, Geac Enterprise Solutions announced it has signed a large contract in another System21 industry of focus apparel/garment with Ghim Li Holdings Co Pte Ltd, a major contract garment manufacturer of quality men's, ladies and children's wear, wanting to be better able to expand its operating efficiency and automate many of its existing business processes across geographical boundaries. Under terms of the agreement, Ghim Li's investment will include software licenses for Geac's System21 Style ERP solution - including financials, manufacturing and distribution - linked to a central IBM iSeries 820 based in the Singapore head office. In addition to ERP, Geac will be providing consultancy and will implement its solutions for production planning, product data management and business intelligence. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by July 2004.

Ghim Li manufactures on behalf of leading U.S. retailers, including Federated Department Stores who own world-renowned Macy's and Bloomingdale's, May department stores, Sears, Roebuck and Co., Target stores, Mervyn's and Wal-Mart, and specialty retailers Eddie Bauer, Charming Shoppes, and Foot Locker. Ghim Li has 13 manufacturing operations located in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, China, Fiji and Guatemala, and sales & marketing offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

The system is seen to support Ghim Li's move towards the centralization of finance, purchasing and production planning, with the result of soon being possible for Ghim Li's customers to have access to production and delivery status across the company's worldwide manufacturing operations. Ghim Li hopes to also soon reap financial benefits, since a centralized purchasing system should enable the company to source raw materials globally for all of its worldwide operations, and it might hereby be able to multiply its buying power rather than dilute it on a local basis, while the Geac financial system will provide consolidated accounting for the entire group's operations. This will be imperative for the company's future growth, which already has revenues of US$160 million and over 6,000 staff.

Although Ghim Li is centralizing many processes, users are set to see the benefits from local flexibility. The production-planning tool should allow users to extract product information from System21 and view all production requirements graphically on screen. The product data managementbased system can analyze the individual cost elements of manufacturing each part of the garment and in turn manage the Bill of Materials and Production Routes to encourage cost effective manufacture. Simple manipulation of production orders can then avoid any bottlenecks occurring and ensure capacity can be optimized across all production lines in real time. In this way Ghim Li can ensure customer demands can be met in conjunction with production efficiency.

New System21 Products

Tackling its third industry of focus, on August 21, Geac Enterprise Solutions announced three new System21 products designed to help automotive manufacturers cut costs by better managing internal and supplier-facing ERP data. Geac demonstrated these new products at Auto-Tech 2002, August 27-29, at The Cobo Conference Center in Detroit, MI. The new products are:

  • System21 enCompass provides a universal Web-based user interface for launching System21 applications through a Web browser, thereby enabling users to navigate back end systems quickly and easily.

  • Key Performance Indicator (KPI) FastPack provides an extensive overview of a company's System21 operational data, enabling users to analyze performance measurements and improve business processes where necessary.

  • Vendor.connect is a supplier self-service application designed to support a collaborative relationship between System21 users and their suppliers, as it provides non-EDI capable suppliers with a secure, Web-based connection to their customers' requirements schedules, and supports both Advanced Shipping Notification (ASN) generation and Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) relationships.

Project Aurora

The wins came on the heels of the July 25 encouraging announcement of further details of Project Aurora -- the code name for Geac's most significant investment in the System21 product in recent years. System21 is already well proven amongst its 1600 customers worldwide, and Aurora, set for global release early in the second quarter of 2003, should offer users an open, collaborative supply chain management (SCM) solution which will exploit the newest technologies, and provide users with access to all their business applications through a single web-based user interface.

Following many thousands of developer days Aurora is seen to present substantial benefits and reflect Geac's strategic commitment of late to place customer focus at the center of its activities. The web-based user portal will provide users - including remote, mobile and home workers - with easy access to business applications through an intuitive, customizable desktop, ensuring increased user productivity. Multi-national organizations with complex sourcing, supply chain and accounting issues, potentially distributed across various countries and legal entities, should all benefit from Aurora. It will include new function that enables companies to review and rationalize their production, inventory, distribution and accounting organizations across international boundaries. Customers who have already deployed early versions of this function to manage their international manufacturing and fulfillment operations, have reportedly experienced benefits from increased optimization of distributed inventories, and greatly reduced transaction overheads.

Aurora will also incorporate an update to the Geac System21 code from the traditional RPG to the modern Integrated Language Environment (ILE) code, supposedly providing a modular development language that will provide flexibility, ease of upgrade and speed not only for Geac's development but also for customers' internal IT departments. The modular nature of ILE, together with Geac's Java-based commerce.connect applications, creates an open ERP system, a foundation for full supply chain collaboration in local or global trading situations.

Geac's commerce.connect is a series of applications and infrastructure components designed to extend the use of System21 to suppliers, customers and mobile employees. Geac's commerce.platform further underpins commerce.connect by providing all the necessary security, workflow and integration capabilities typically required by companies operating in complex supply chains. commerce.connect includes a range of applications to improve the performance of individuals involved in critical business processes such as sales (direct sales force, call centers and customer self-service via the web) purchasing, vendor scheduling and after sales customer service.


Furthermore, at the end of July, Geac announced the positive feedback from industry-leading customers, analyst groups and key influencers in the enterprise software market with regard to its AnswerLink solution, which reportedly delivers 24 x 7 x 365 Web-based self-service support to its enterprise customers, which represent nearly 50% of the Fortune 100 and span more than 95 countries worldwide. Industry and market leaders have reportedly acknowledged AnswerLink's ability to provide increasing levels of exceptional service and support to Global 2000 customers, Hitachi Automotive Products (USA), Inc., a subsidiary of Hitachi America, Ltd., being one such company that has benefited from Geac's proactive customer support philosophy. Hitachi Over the past four years, AnswerLink has been instrumental in helping the company transition through product upgrades and troubleshoot existing IT problems.

AnswerLink allows Geac users worldwide to run their core software efficiently and solve IT problems on their own, whenever and wherever they want. Specifically, AnswerLink enables E Series and M Series (host/mainframe based product lines), SmartStream (client/server product), and System21 (IBM iSeries server based product) users to look up documentation, post questions, search an extensive knowledgebase, download program fixes and service packs, and communicate with other Geac users through an easy-to-use browser interface. In 2001, AnswerLink helped address more than 59,000 cases, achieving a very high success rate in terms of case responsiveness and resolution.

AnswerLink is part of a larger suite of service and support offerings provided by Geac. Other solutions include AppCare (Geac's application management outsourcing solution), Customer Select, Professional Services Consulting and Education Services. All of these offerings are designed to help customers proactively seek and receive the help they need to maximize their mission-critical operational systems.

Financial Results

On June 25, Geac reported better than expected financial results for its fiscal year 2002. While the company's revenue continues to decline, it has returned to profitability and offers a modestly optimistic outlook for fiscal 2003. The results are merely attributable to various initiatives to restore profitability undertaken since a way back in 2000, including restructuring, divestitures and facility rationalization. Revenue for the year ended April 30, 2002, was Can$719.5 million, a 14% drop compared to Can$834.8 million in fiscal 2001. Excluding revenue attributable to the company's publishing software business, which was sold on August 9, 2001, and the hotel software business, which was sold on March 31, 2001, total revenue declined by Can$85.6 million, or 10.7%, from Can$799.7 million in fiscal 2001 to Can$714.1 million in fiscal 2002.

Fiscal 2002 net income from continuing operations, however, was Can$51.8 million, compared to a whopping net loss from continuing operations of Can$351.3 million last year (see Figure 1). Geac's balance sheet strengthened considerably during the quarter, as the company had approximately Can$115.7 million in cash at the end of April. About 74% (Can$534 million) of revenues derived from the GES division, with 57% of total revenues generated in the Americas, 35% in Europe, and 8% in Asia Pacific region.

Figure 1.

Cost of revenues was reduced by Can$95.0 million, or 22.5%, from Can$421.6 million in fiscal year 2001 to Can$326.6 million in fiscal year 2002, as during the fourth quarter, Geac undertook a comprehensive review of its operations with the objective of reducing costs and increasing effectiveness. As a result of this effort, the company streamlined operations, centralized management of its SmartStream and System21 enterprise applications, refocused development, and reduced the size of its workforce.

Over the course of the next year, Geac will be simplifying its organizational structure and rationalizing back office general and administrative functions inherited from numerous acquisitions. At the end of this process, Geac intends to be a flatter, leaner and more nimble organization. These efforts are aimed at eliminating the processes that do not deliver tangible value and benefits for customers, retaining profitable customers, boosting the revenue derived from existing businesses, improving internal processes and reducing complexity.

The anticipated savings associated with the net restructuring and other unusual items charge of Can$41.3 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002 will be approximately Can$70 million for fiscal year 2003 and approximately Can$86 million for fiscal year 2004 and annually thereafter. The company does not anticipate the need for future restructuring charges at this time. Although the restructuring, head count reductions, and office closings should improve earnings in fiscal 2003, the management is only forecasting Can$600 million in revenue for next year.

The predictions appeared to be close to the mark based on its September 4 announcement of Q1 2003 financial results. Revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2003, ended July 31, 2002, was Can$155.1 million, a 13.6% drop compared to Can$179.6 million in the corresponding period in fiscal 2002 (see Figure 2). Excluding revenue attributable to the above-mentioned former publishing software business, total revenue declined by Can$19.1 million, or 11.0%, from Can$174.2 million a year ago. Software license revenue, excluding revenue attributable to the publishing software business, declined by Can$5.4 million, or 28.4%, and support and services revenue declined by Can$17.9 million, or 12.3%. These declines were partially offset by a Can$4.2 million increase in revenue from the sale of computer hardware. Net income was Can$16.2 million, compared to Can$17.0 million in the same period of the prior fiscal year. Net income as a percentage of revenue was 10.4% in Q1 2003, an improvement from 9.5% in Q1 2002. On July 31, 2002, cash and cash equivalents totaled Can$73.8 million, compared to Can$115.7 million at April 30, 2002. The company's decline in cash resulted primarily from the payment of Can$44.4 million in accounts payable and accrued liabilities during the first quarter.

Figure 2.

This concludes Part One of a three-part note on Geac. Part Two will cover the Market Impact, and Part Three will discuss the Challenges Geac faces and make User Recommendations.

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