Shareholders of Veeva Systems (NYSE: VEEV) have had a lot to cheer about recently. The company — which aims to provide a one-stop cloud solution for all the needs of pharmaceutical companies — has seen its stock almost quintuple since February 2016 on the back of consistently strong earnings reports.
During that run, Veeva Vault — a repository for the data needed to bring a compound from idea to clinical trials to market — has been the star of the show. But in the most recent earnings call, management highlighted three more specific areas that in-the-know investors should keep an eye on.
Growth could be coming back to the commercial cloud
For the first half-dozen years as a company, Veeva focused on a suite of customer relationship management (CRM) tools. These tools helped a drug company’s sales force monitor and track key drug sales data. They are now considered part of Veeva’s “commercial cloud” division.
While this is still an important part of the business — providing stable, high-margin, subscription revenue — growth has slowed and taken a back seat to the aforementioned Veeva Vault.
But CEO and founder Peter Gassner said there could be a new growth initiative on the horizon:
Nitro is our next-generation commercial data warehouse built specifically for life sciences. Nitro has a potential to eliminate another major…custom system that has been a real burden for the industry.
It also sets up customers to fully leverage the power of AI. We believe Nitro could be a real breakthrough and transform customer engagement in life sciences. We’ve been encouraged by the high level of interest in Nitro and our progress so far.
Veeva has already disrupted several custom systems at Big Pharma companies, and Nitro would be another tool. Nitro would widen Veeva’s moat via high switching costs — no one would want to migrate all of that data unless absolutely necessary.
But because of the AI component, it would also add a sneaky network effect: The more customers that use Nitro, the more precise the company’s algorithms become, which entices further customers, making the algorithms even better.
Progress continues to be made outside of life sciences
When the idea of Veeva was born, the intent was to focus solely on life sciences companies. But because of the success of Veeva Vault, the company started hearing from more and more potential customers in other industries that wanted access to the software. This was especially true of companies in highly regulated fields like chemicals and consumer packaged goods.
Thus was born Vault QualityOne — a hybrid of offerings for non-pharmaceutical companies. It was rolled out on a limited basis last year, and continues to progress, according to Gassner:
We continue to add a few new customers and expand with existing early adopters. The highlight of the quarter outside of life sciences is that we now have our first seven-figure customer. This was the result of expansion with one of our early adopters based on success with initial projects. We’re still in the early-adopter phase of this new area and will be for some time, but we’re making great progress.
It’s clear that leveraging the Vault Platform and using our reference selling model within industries is going to work well for Veeva outside of life sciences.
The initiative is nowhere near big enough to warrant being broken out in SEC filings, but long-term investors should continue to listen in to conference calls to see if this offering ever reaches a tipping point that could meaningfully add to the company’s bottom line.
Vault EDC is making strides toward an enormous goal
Finally, I want to highlight Veeva’s efforts in electronic data capture (EDC). In the most basic sense, this is the practice of inputting data from clinical trials via electronic input instead of paper form.
As you might expect, this is massively important for drug companies. Currently, Oracle and Medidata Solutions own most of the market share. But the trends are looking rosier every quarter for Veeva. Per Gassner:
EDC is also going well. We finished the quarter with 12 Vault EDC customers, including our first top 20 pharma, who is beginning with one study and evaluating Veeva for others.
We are committed to becoming the long-term leader in EDC through customer success, innovation, and the unified platform approach based on Veeva Vault. EDC is a long-term play. It’s a large application, and we’re making good progress.
Gassner is making no secret that winning over customers will be tougher here, as there are already established cloud players. However, if a drug company had the option to transition to Veeva EDC — given that it was already using the company for its CRM and other trial-related Vault needs — it’s not out of the question that Veeva could have a real coup on its hands. Simplifying everything for drug companies under one umbrella is enticing, and Veeva might have the momentum to see it through.
The important takeaway
Over the short term, none of these three will be major drivers for stock-price movement. Sales and profitability figures will drive that narrative. However, for long-term investors who plan on holding for five or more years, these three businesses — Nitro, QualityOne, and EDC — represent important initiatives that could provide significant growth over the next decade.
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Brian Stoffel owns shares of Veeva Systems. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Veeva Systems. The Motley Fool owns shares of Oracle and has the following options: long January 2020 $30 calls on Oracle. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.