Even Data Is A Luxury for Wall Street: Street Whispers

Tickers in this article: FDS

NEW YORK (TheStreet)--If there's anything on Wall Street for which demand ought to be inexhaustible, it's data.

How else do you think Michael Bloomberg got to be so rich? How do you think all those research reports get to be so thick?

FactSet(FDS) , which provides data and analytics used widely by Wall Street, is still growing, but the pace is pretty depressing considering that the demand for relatively cheap number crunching tools ought to be inexhaustible among securities dealers.

Actually, it seems fairly clear that competition from Bloomberg is one of the problems for FactSet, which saw shares fall 4.36% after it reported first quarter earnings on Tuesday.

"It's actually a thrill to be in a conversation with Bloomberg and to think that we're a threat for them and that they need a new creative port product to combat us in the marketplace," said CEO Philip Hadley on the conference call with analysts, doing his best to put on a brave face.

Still, the bigger threat is from the shrinking client base. Citigroup just announced it would slash 11,000 jobs, coming fast on the heels of another 10,000 cuts from UBS. Other banks are expected to slash their already much-depleted ranks to show they are equally serious about appealing to ever more impatient shareholders and boards.

"It's certainly a choppy environment," said Hadley, who used the word "choppy" on two other occasions during a relatively brief Q and A session with analysts.

Hadley and his management team say they're doing better on the buy-side as big securities cut back, but BTIG analyst Mark Palmer wasn't convinced.

"Its user and client growth were stagnant and their guidance was supportive of our view that the company's growth is decelerating. Moreover, FactSet's annual subscription value (ASV) growth of 7% - following growth in that metric of 11% in 2Q12, 9% in 3Q12 and 7% in 4Q12 - appears to have plateaued during the quarter, in contrast to the hopes of some investors that growth would be reinvigorated," Palmer wrote in a note published Tuesday.

The four page note contained two pages of disclosures, but just one page of data. At least Wall Street's lawyers are still making money.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.