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Federal initiatives around IT modernization translate to revenue growth for public sector services providers

Growth opportunities across defense and civilian agencies uplift vendor performance

The results of TBR’s 2Q18 Public Sector IT Services Benchmark demonstrate clear top-line benefits for services providers as government agencies accelerate IT modernization initiatives. Revenue for the 16 benchmarked vendors improved 5.3% year-to-year, which does not even factor in General Dynamics IT essentially doubling in size through its acquisition of CSRA. Including the impact of the acquisition, revenue grew 13.5% from 2Q17.

Graph showing weighted average total year-to-year revenue growth versus organic year-to-year revenue growth for 2Q17 through estimated 3Q18

Industry consolidation remains a prevailing theme in the market as the near-term opportunities tied to U.S. federal budget growth and the pursuit of innovation create a sense of urgency for vendors to capitalize. Scale advantages, complementary capabilities and broadened customer relationships make consolidation a compelling tool to facilitate near-term deal capture. Consolidation will remain a prominent strategic concern, evidenced by the announcement after the close of 2Q18 that SAIC (NYSE: SAIC) plans to acquire Engility (NYSE: EGL). However, in the long run, TBR anticipates the importance of scale will diminish as rapid technological change disrupts legacy business models.

TBR believes that the door is open for industry stalwarts to be disrupted if they elect to ignore the prevailing signs that the federal government, in particular the U.S. Department of Defense, seeks change in how it procures and fields technology.

 

TBR’s Public Sector IT Services Benchmark examines the key strategies, investments and performance metrics of leading government consultants, systems integrators, and IT and professional services providers. The benchmark examines 16 vendors across three groups: services units of aerospace and defense firms, U.S. federal government pure play vendors, and public sector verticals of commercially led IT services companies. We mix qualitative analysis of key investments and strategic initiatives with quantitative analysis of financial performance to uncover the drivers of business success for vendors that offer services to government customers.

Post SAIC-Engility question: who and what next?

SAIC has now made their deal, so we can take them off the table as a buyer of scale. They have to digest Engility and make that combination work as the federal IT environment continues to change and change fast, as Technology Business Research public sector IT analyst Joey Cresta wrote in a research note Monday.

“SAIC’s long‐term challenge will be no different than it is today: the automation of transactional tasks and the technology‐driven compression of windows of competitive advantage threaten its legacy business model,” Cresta wrote. “(Intellectual property) monetization will help to define winners and losers amid these disruptive environmental factors.”

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Consolidation accelerates in government contracting. Who’s next in M&A?

Joey Cresta, an analyst with Technology Business Research Inc. in Hampton, New Hampshire, who closely tracks the government services market, wonders if SAIC’s (NYSE: SAIC) deal for Engility — a marriage of two legacy companies providing systems engineering and technical assistance (SETA) services to the government — might signal the beginning of the end of contractors chasing scale.

That advantage, Cresta writes in a new research note, erodes in an era where in-demand, agile tech skills, industry partnerships and expanding intellectual property portfolios will provide more of a competitive advantage than size.

“If SAIC focuses purely on the scale advantage of the Engility deal rather than the IP monetization factor, it could in short order find itself in a race to the bottom,” he adds, “with diminished pricing due to labor automation hamstringing financial flexibility and capacity for continued reinvestment to keep up with the ever-accelerating pace of technological change.”

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Legacy’s last gasp: SAIC, Engility and the importance of skills over scale

SAIC’s planned purchase of Engility combines federal contractors with business models similarly disrupted by the march of technology

Themes of consolidation continued to pervade the U.S. federal government IT and professional services market on Monday, Sept. 10, with SAIC (NYSE: SAIC) announcing it will acquire peer Engility (NYSE: EGL). The proposed deal would combine two legacy providers of systems engineering and technical assistance (SETA) and ITO services to U.S. defense, intelligence, civilian and space agencies. The combination makes strategic sense for both parties as the commoditization of labor-based services compresses margins, compelling companies to look for scale advantages to optimize cost structures and maintain competitiveness to capitalize on the federal market’s current upswing.

The proposed deal would add to the lengthy list of market-shaping acquisitions and divestitures over the past five years. SAIC can be viewed as an instigator of the trend, as the company split from its former parent company, now Leidos (NYSE: LDOS), in 2013. Engility has also played a role in the industry’s consolidation through its acquisition of TASC in 2015. In the few years since, Leidos purchased Lockheed Martin’s (NYSE: LMT) IT services business, CSRA briefly gained independence before combining with General Dynamics IT (GDIT) earlier this year, and another new company, Perspecta (NYSE: PRSP), emerged from the combination of DXC Technology (NYSE: DXC) U.S. Public Sector assets with Vencore and KeyPoint Government Solutions.

While scale motivated all of these moves to varying degrees, SAIC’s planned purchase of Engility may represent the beginning of the end of this trend. As rapid technological change disrupts legacy business models, TBR believes the importance of scale will diminish. The deal will help SAIC in the near term, but what the company does next will determine its long-term survivability in the Business of One era.

Engility, CACI and SAIC do the federal services consolidation tango

On Wednesday, July 11, Reuters released an exclusive report citing unnamed sources that U.S. federal services contractor Engility (NYSE: EGL) is exploring a sale. The report noted interest in Engility from federal services peers CACI (NYSE: CACI) and SAIC (NYSE: SAIC), which both dwarf Engility in size at $4.45 billion and $4.55 billion, respectively, in TBR-estimated 2018 revenues, compared with Engility’s $1.87 billion. The report was no surprise to TBR, as we have been monitoring the consolidation trend within the federal services sector over the past several years, including past deals such as CACI’s acquisition of L-3 National Security Solutions, Leidos’ purchase of Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions and General Dynamics’ recently completed acquisition of CSRA.