CheckFree Corp.'s stock price takes a dip

NORCROSS - CheckFree Corp., a Norcross-based electronic payment processing company, saw its stock price dip Wednesday after failing to meet some of its sales goals in the third quarter of fiscal year 2007. The company's stock fell $2.10 to $34.13 per share.

On a conference call late Tuesday afternoon, CheckFree CEO Peter Kight expressed disappointment that his company failed to meet its expected sales numbers for software and electronic commerce.

"We've made changes here because we're not executing as well as we could be," Kight said of his company, which is one of Gwinnett County's largest employers with 852 workers, according to numbers from the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce.

Those changes include a reorganization of the company's international sales management team and the addition of several highly experienced international software sales professionals, Kight said.

The company also believes its acquisition of Carreker Corp. - a payment software provider based in Dallas, Texas - will help the company's sales capabilities in the United Kingdom, Australia and Europe.

Kight said CheckFree has received a positive response from the banking industry regarding its new software line, technology tools and consulting capabilities made possible by the changes and acquisition, but the company still needs to see results.

"We have to improve sales execution and assure timely delivery of our expanded product line," Kight said.

The company also struggled in its electronic commerce sales and hopes a potential fourth-quarter acquisition of Corillian Corp. will help. Corillian is a Hillsboro, Oregon-based company that focuses on Internet banking software and services.

Kight said strict budgets in the banking industry have hampered sales despite CheckFree's attempts to show a solid return on investment for its products.

"Price will remain a focus for the market, particularly with the biggest banks where the resources and political motivation are the strongest," Kight said.

CheckFree anticipates some of those bigger clients moving their electronic banking operations in house.

There have been rumors for several weeks of the company's biggest client, Bank of America, processing payments without the help of CheckFree, but Kight would not comment on specific clients until there was official news.

If CheckFree does happen to lose any of its larger clients over the next several years, the company expects it will be able to off-set those losses.

"It's also likely we'll win new business in that same time frame," Kight said.