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Answerthink: The Hard Work of B2B

In the past few years, companies such as I2, CommerceOne and Ariba have been locking-up key agreements to form B2B marketplaces. Now, it is time for execution. However, while these companies have elegant solutions, there will be a huge demand for integration services for B2B marketplaces.

Beneficiaries will include e-consulting firms, which interestingly enough, have been selling off. One is answerthink . In the past year, the price range has been $9-1/4-$40-3/8. The current stock price is $15-3/16.

Answerthink specializes in complex technology integration projects and has been focusing on B2B marketplaces. For example, in the past quarter, the company snagged a deal to develop an e-marketplace for the vision care industry.

Another important development was the deal with Sun Microsystems, in which answerthink will become one of its e-integrators. The deal will make it easier for answerthink to develop technologies using Sun technologies, such as Java.

Answerthink has also signed a key deal with IBM. In the alliance, both companies will develop transaction systems for wireless devices. Basically, the goal is to provide "enterprise to anywhere" capabilities.

But a clear validation of the company's potential for the B2B marketplace is the deal it signed last week with i2 . At a $36 billion market cap, i2 is a mega leader in the B2B space. No doubt, its software platform, TradeMatrix, will become an integral part of many B2B marketplaces. Actually, i2 and answerthink have worked together for two years and are expanding the relationship. It should mean a strong boost for the growth rate of answerthink.

In the past quarter, sales were $81.7 million, which was up from $62.7 million from the same period a year ago. Net income was $7 million.

The problems with the e-consulting industry will weigh down on answerthink. Also, the build-out of B2B marketplaces is a long-term process. So, it will probably take some time for the stock price of answerthink to gain momentum on the upside. But the potential looks enormous.