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Portal Software: As Goes Telecom, So Goes Portal Software

Before founding Portal Software in 1985, John Little had extensive experience with the communications industry. He consulted for such giants as AT&T, Knight Ridder and Raytheon. He understood that there would be a universal global network - that is, the Internet.

At first, Portal Software was an Internet Service Provider (ISP). However, with the intense competition, he saw another opportunity: providing customer management services for communications companies. So Portal Software launched its first product called Infranet in 1996.

A big hindrance to Internet subscription businesses has been batch-oriented billing systems. With Portal Software, companies can support frequent price changes and multiple pricing options. Features include real-time account information, as well as financial, marketing and operational information; fraud and bad debt prevention; instant account creation; and immediate revenue assurance (that is, there is no leakage).

Thus, companies not only reduce their costs, but get their services to market quicker while also maintaining quality service. Customers include France Telecom, Juno Online, Palm computing, US West, PSINet and UUNET. Portal has also struck key alliance relationships with Andersen Consulting, Cap Gemini, KPMG, NTTSoft, and eWaterhouseCoopers.

The company has been growing at break-neck speed. In the past quarter, revenues were $64.5 million, which was a 210% increase from the same period a year ago. And there were profits. Net income was $5.6 million. Portal Software closed 80 new clients in the quarter.

Expect the growth surge to continue. In fact, the company is seeing gains in international markets, especially in Asia. Recent deals include China Railway Communications, Ji Tong Communications and Xinhua News Agency.

And Portal Software is continuing to innovate. For example, the company has collaborated with Andersen Consulting to build Infranet ICP, which is geared for next-generation Integrated Communications Providers (ICPs).

I wrote a column about this company about a year ago. Split adjusted, the stock was at $19-1/8. Now, the stock is trading $54-15/15 -- with a high of $86. With the company continuing to grow and innovate, the stock price should be hitting new highs soon.