Deluxe Corp.’s fourth-quarter results jumped 27 percent, blasting past expectations, as its financial services business continued to grow strongly.
Deluxe said Thursday it earned $58 million, or $1.19 an adjusted share, during the last three months of 2014. Investors were expecting a profit of $1.09 a share.
Revenue rose 7.3 percent to $448.5 million. The Shoreview-based company’s stock jumped 7.2 percent on the news.
Chief Executive Lee Schram said the performance puts the company in a strong position as it celebrates its 100th anniversary year.
In recent years, Deluxe has transformed itself from a provider of check and payment services into a broad array of business services. “Deluxe found its niche in inventiveness to survive and thrive through depressions, recessions, world wars and a technological revolution,” he said.
The company’s acquisition last year of Wausau Financial Systems helped drive a 21 percent revenue jump in its financial services business, its second-largest unit, during the last quarter. Its biggest business, called small-business services, experienced 1 percent growth.
Schram said the company was conservative in its original forecast about the impact Wausau would have on Deluxe, in part because of deferred revenue practices at Wausau. “So we did a little better [at Wausau], but we also performed a little better overall,” he said. “Things have gone quite well.”
Executives gave a mixed outlook for the start of 2015, saying they expected earnings in the range of 99 cents to $1.04 per share, slightly below analysts’ forecast of $1.05. They said they expect revenue in a range of $426 million to $434 million, in line with estimates.
Executives also said they expect to restart the company’s share repurchase program this year. Deluxe halted the repurchases last year to prepare for a debt payment.