SAIC and Unisys Federal: Penetration, growth and confidence, with questions around IP and integration

Consolidation continues

SAIC’s agreement to purchase Unisys’ federal business for $1.2 billion (which includes present value tax assets of approximately $175 million) is just the latest example of the continued consolidation of the public sector IT services market, which has been ongoing for the past four years. For example, Leidos (NYSE: LDOS) purchased Lockheed Martin’s (NYSE: LMT) IT services business; General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT; NYSE: GD) purchased CSRA; DXC Technology’s (NYSE: DXC) U.S. Public Sector business combined with Vencore and KeyPoint Government Solutions to form Perspecta (NYSE: PRSP), which subsequently purchased Knight Point Systems in 2019. The same year, SAIC purchased Engility, CACI (NYSE: CACI) made six acquisitions and Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) announced a “merger of equals” with United Technologies (NYSE: UTX), to be finalized in 2020. Additionally, Leidos recently finalized its purchase of Dynetics and announced the purchase of BAE’s airport security business only days before SAIC announced its plans to acquire Unisys Federal. Along with these marquee deals, the market saw a smattering of smaller and/or less strategic deals over the past four years. Much of this M&A activity has in some way emphasized scaling to compete for mega-deals such as Next Generation Enterprise Networks Re-compete (NGEN-R) or Defense Enterprise Office Solution (DEOS) contracts. Based on recent market activity and the federal government’s increasing emphasis on digital transformation and next-generation technologies, it seems unlikely the need for scale will diminish for federal market players anytime soon. For SAIC to acquire another company of this size so quickly after the purchase of Engility only underscores the importance the company’s leadership places on scale. In fact, this purchase would theoretically boost SAIC to fourth place in TBR’s Public Sector IT Services Benchmark (behind only Leidos, GDIT and Booz Allen Hamilton [NYSE: BAH]) based on the most recent trailing 12-month federal revenues of the companies we track.

Unisys Federal impact and opportunities

Aside from the additional scale in both employees and revenue, Unisys Federal will provide SAIC with deeper access to the Department of Homeland Security and Treasury Department through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the IRS, respectively. For calendar year 2019, Unisys Federal had approximately $179 million in obligations to CBP and $84 million in obligations to the IRS. Both agencies are relatively underpenetrated by legacy SAIC and should provide more opportunity for growth with other civilian agencies. Unisys Federal realized a CAGR of 10% over the last two years, far outstripping the average of 4.6% for the 15 companies tracked in TBR’s Public Sector IT Services Benchmark, supported by a $1.8 billion backlog (2.6 backlog-to-revenue ratio), which TBR believes should provide ample opportunity for the new SAIC to continue Unisys Federal’s strong growth, especially in cloud adoption and other modernization services. Most of this backlog consists of slightly higher-margin projects than legacy SAIC engagements. TBR expects this deal will improve margins for SAIC by somewhere between 20 to 40 basis points by the two-year mark. In addition to the scale, agency access and large backlog, SAIC now has the right to sell CloudForte, a key platform for Unisys Federal’s business in the public sector that typically forms the backbone for the cloud services the company has delivered and likely will continue to offer as part of SAIC.

TBR believes SAIC’s (NYSE: SAIC) purchase of Unisys Federal, announced on Feb. 6, 2020, will provide the combined company with broader agency access and a strong potential for growth while signaling the extreme confidence of SAIC’s leadership. We also believe the lack of IP included in the deal and the challenges associated with SAIC’s previous and upcoming integrations mean this deal likely carries more risk than reward. This acquisition comes almost exactly one year after SAIC’s purchase of Engility for $2.5 billion, which has yet to produce organic growth for SAIC, though SAIC claims cost synergies have been fully realized. The inorganic boost of Unisys Federal (which achieved approximately $689 million in revenue for the trailing 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2019, with an impressive 10% two-year compound annual growth rate) will bring the combined organization’s annual federal revenue for the same 12-month period to approximately $6.6 billion on a pro forma basis.

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.