Perhaps one of the big technology themes through 2015 was fluff and hype being blown off some of the more exciting, yet unproven, terms. Big data stands out among this crowd. Plenty of companies have been waxing lyrical about big data and the power of analysing huge digital information sets, few have been able to deliver much on the implied promise.

In fact, among the UK-quoted entrants, companies that have arguably made the best fist of big data tools are companies that have largely refused to puff the big data jargon. Malaysia-based Fusionex (FXI:AIM) remains one we like, Tracsis (TRCS:AIM) another. County Down-based First Derivatives (FDP:AIM) a third.

The £353 million company revealed its first acquisition of 2016 on Tuesday, most certainly not its last, bringing QuantumKDB into its Kx division fold. Kx is an American high performance database technology company whose system First Derivatives resells its its own, largely financial, clients. QuantumKDB is another smaller reseller of Kx, so the fit look good and makes sense.

FDP glass door

The deal is small, worth £2.2 million for a business that posted a £300,000 pre-tax profit in its last full year, although revenues were not disclosed. The modest size of the deal is probably why the market has largely shrugged off the acquisition, the shares up just 5p to £15.20.

But this is a strategic fit, First Derivatives expects the deal to strengthen its relationship with certain key clients as well as adding to its existing customer base.


What is interesting is just how busy the Northern Irish boys have been in building out their number crunching arm. Last year its invested a total of £26.4 million in upfront and deferred acquisition spend, buying Prelytix, ActivateClients and Affinity Systems. First Derivatives also late last year set-up a new R&D base in Canada, which it is calling FD Labs.

Exciting times for a company that's actually doing not talking about big data and analytics. It reported a 27% jump in half-year pre-tax profit (£4.6 million) on a 44% revenues jump, to £53.8 million. There clearly is real money to be made in big data, it's not all flannel.

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Issue Date: 12 Jan 2016