Veeva’s (VEEV) third-quarter results came in slightly ahead of our expectations, with record services utilization and a positive mix shift toward non-CRM products allowing operating margins to expand nearly 5% over last year, despite continued investment in building out the firm’s clinical offerings and headcount. Vault bookings contributed over half of total bookings for the first time, which should translate to further gross margin expansion in the near-term. As we reevaluate our assumptions about operating expenses and the uptake of Vault Clinical applications, we may modestly raise our $40 fair value estimate.
We continue to be optimistic about Veeva’s substantial investments in its clinical suite of products, which have already gained significant traction with its top pharmaceutical customers. As the duration and subsequent costs of clinical trials increase, the value proposition of electronic data capture, or EDC, systems, which help collect clinical data and manage workflows, becomes more compelling. Veeva plans to launch Vault CTMS (clinical trial management), EDC, and eSource in 2017, and its ability to combine clinical data management and clinical operations solutions onto a single, cloud-based platform should lead to solid adoption of these products across its customer base. Moreover, we suspect customer demand helped spur investment in this area. We reiterate our belief that Veeva’s niche position in the life sciences vertical allows it to have a significant competitive advantage, as the firm can develop products specifically for areas of unmet customer need.
As Veeva expands into these new areas, it not only increases the total addressable market of its products, but also reinforces its sticky customer base. Veeva’s growing entrenchment into the core operations of biopharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations bolsters our confidence that it will generate economic profits in the long term.
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