Back in December, I outlined three shares I believed were primed to explode during 2017. One of these - robotic automation software provider, Blue Prism(LSE: PRSM) -- reported full-year results to the market this morning. After a rise of over 400% since listing last March, does it now make sense to say that this company could eventually turn early investors into millionaires?
Massive revenue growth
Let's look at today's numbers first. In the year ended 31 October, total contracted revenue rocketed by a whopping 205% to £35.2m. Importantly, recurring revenue represented 85% of this figure. Recognised revenue -- recorded when it's realised or realisable and earned, but not necessarily when it's received -- increased 59% to £9.6m (FY15: £6.1m).
While operating losses rose from £800,000 to £5.3m (taking into account share-based costs and costs relating to its IPO), the AIM-listed company's cash position also improved markedly, from £2.4m in 2015 to £11.8m in 2016.
On an operational level, Blue Prism won 96 new customers, over 90% of whom were acquired through its channel partner ecosystem. 18 of these were also from the US, which looks like being a key market for the business. This brings its total customer base to 153. Encouragingly, there were also 81 upsells across 47 existing customers. This success has motivated the company to double its number of employees, from 43 to 86.
It gets even better. Commenting on results, CEO Alastair Bathgate reflected that he was "delighted" by the performance over the year and that Blue Prism had "outperformed its targets for the period across all areas of the business". Although tight-lipped over when he expects to turn a profit, Bathgate did state that revenue for the current financial year would be "comfortably ahead of existing market expectations", assuming this kind of momentum can be sustained.
Based on today's figures, Blue Prism's future continues to look very exciting indeed and explains why it's starting to see "increased competition" in the RPA market. Where there's money to be made, there will always be rivalry.
Could Blue Prism make you a millionaire? Given the expected exponential growth in demand for its software, there could certainly be massive returns for shareholders over the medium-to-long term. That would happen as more and more companies seek to reduce costs by adopting digital workforces to undertake routine tasks that would otherwise be completed by a costly human. Indeed, it could be argued that Blue Prism is just the sort of share one might want to hold in recessionary times.
Nevertheless, two things can't be overlooked. Firstly, the superb performance of its shares since its IPO means that some investors will now be sitting on significant paper profits. I wouldn't be surprised if today's positive report motivated at least some to reduce their exposure and bank some of these gains. Indeed, with shares down almost 6% at the time of writing, that's what already seems to be happening.
Secondly, while its potential market is huge and the progress so far has been superb, Blue Prism will eventually need to turn a profit to satisfy those holding its stock. If this comes later than expected -- by the company or its holders -- there could be significant downward pressure on the share price. Notwithstanding today's stellar numbers, Blue Prism remains a stock that may only appeal to risk-tolerant investors.
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Paul Summers owns shares in Blue Prism. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.