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LivePerson Sees Growth as Companies Hunt Data: Israel Overnight

LivePerson Inc., a maker of software that can track and communicate with consumers surfing websites, will boost revenue growth as companies seek out more data on their customers, the chief executive officer said.

The technology company, which bases 50 percent of staff in Ra’anana, Israel, will probably report a 22.3 percent increase in revenue this year, from 21 percent growth in 2011, as it sells more software designed to help companies convert their online interactions with customers into sales, CEO Robert Locascio said in an interview at LivePerson’s New York headquarters yesterday.

“Data is worth a lot of money,” said Locascio, whose frustration with customer service on a computer company’s website more than a decade ago inspired him to found LivePerson. “There’s a real opportunity to increase uses of data intelligence and data analysis. It enables the marketer to go after more customers.”

LivePerson, whose U.S.-traded shares had the best start of the year since 2007, is benefiting from rising demand from customers including AT&T Inc. and Bank of America Corp. to boost online revenue after e-commerce in the U.S. surged to a record $51.4 billion at the end of last year. The Bloomberg Israel-US Equity Index of the biggest Israeli companies traded in New York climbed 1.1 percent yesterday to 87.64.

Shares of LivePerson, which acquired Israeli competitor HumanClick Ltd. in 2001, gained 3.7 percent to $15.98 in New York after the company’s Tel Aviv stock fell 1.8 percent to 58.46 shekels, or the equivalent of $15.56.

Chat Windows

LivePerson offers products that monitor shoppers’ behavior and website traffic and can alert companies when a potential customer is leaving their website, Locascio said. The software automatically opens a chat window or sends coupons in order to convince the customer to make a purchase, he said.

Shoppers exhibit behavioral patterns when they’re online, Locascio, 43, said. “We thought it would be very good to get another level of awareness,” he said.

The company will probably report sales of $163 million this year, up from $133 million in 2011, according to the median of 10 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

LivePerson’s U.S. stock gained 33 percent in the first quarter, the most since the first three months of 2007. The stock reached a record-high $17.32 on March 26, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The shares advance has pushed valuations to 37.2 estimated earnings, more than double the average multiple for companies listed on the Nasdaq Composite Index.

Internet Knowledge

Online sales rose to 4.8 percent of all sales in the fourth quarter of 2011 in the U.S. from 4.4 percent in the same period of 2010, according to the Commerce Department.

Facebook Inc., which intends to raise $5 billion in the biggest initial public offering by an Internet company, almost doubled revenue last year as advertisers looked to tap the website’s 845 million worldwide members.

“All the information that you need to know about your customer and about your products is now located on the Internet and social networks,” Brian Schwartz, an analyst at ThinkEquity Partners LLC in San Francisco who recommends buying shares of LivePerson, said by phone. “They have the unique availability to see what behaviors are on their websites.”

Israel, whose population of 7.8 million is similar in size to Switzerland’s, has about 60 companies traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market, the most of any country outside the U.S. after China. The nation is also home to more startup firms per capita than the U.S.

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