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Autonomy gets blue chip boost

British search firm claims that more companies are valuing the ability to automatically search their unstructured information
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Enterprise search company Autonomy announced on Thursday that it achieved record-breaking financial results in 2006, on the back of new customer wins.

Autonomy, which is based in Cambridge, develops and sells software that can help companies search within the "unstructured data" that is spread across their IT systems, including text, email, voice and video files.

Autonomy acquired rival search firm Verity in late 2005 for $500m. Its full-year financial results for 2006, published on Wednesday morning, indicate that this takeover is now bearing fruit.

Last year Autonomy made a pre-tax profit of $69.1m, an increase of 215 percent on 2005. It also increased its spending on research and development by 134 percent, year-on-year.

Back in October, Autonomy announced that it would enjoy a successful end to 2006. This prediction appears to have come true as it won a string of new customers in the last quarter of the year.

"Blue chip fourth-quarter wins include Devon Energy, Energy Systems, Emirates Air, China Mobile, Banco de Mexico, Bloomberg, GM, Union Pacific, GE, Ericsson and AOL, as well as multiple government, defence and intelligence agencies around the globe including in the US, France, China, Hungary, the Netherlands, Italy, Singapore, the UK, Spain and Canada," said Autonomy in its trading statement.

Autonomy was founded by Mike Lynch, who briefly held the title of being the UK's first software billionaire, before the dot-com crash dented the value of the company.

In the last few months, though, Autonomy's share price has jumped by close to 50 percent. Lynch believes that its recent success shows that companies now recognise the value that can be locked up in their data.

"2006 was a transformational year for our markets and Autonomy, with unstructured information reaching 'prime time' status across the globe. Throughout the year leading organisations such as Bloomberg, HP and GSK have made the decision to standardise on Autonomy for the automated handling of unstructured information, recognising the limitations of manual legacy keyword-based solutions," said Lynch.

"We are looking forward to 2007 with great excitement and continued confidence in our long-term outlook," Lynch added.

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