Equifax Expands Beyond Credit Scores

24. Equifax
Market Cap: $7b
Revenue: $2.2b
EPS: $2.22
Equifax landed at No. 24 in this year’s Bloomberg Businessweek 50, after not earning a place in our ranking of best-performing companies last year. Best known as a provider of consumer credit scores, the Atlanta-based firm has been expanding aggressively, wrapping up $1.2 billion in acquisitions in 2012 alone. Chief Executive Officer Richard Smith spoke with Bloomberg News reporter Elizabeth Dexheimer about the company’s strategy as well as prospects for the U.S. consumer.

What’s driving Equifax’s momentum?
It boils down to three fundamental things. We are innovating at very high levels, and innovation for us is measured by our ability to bring new products and solutions to our customers. We’ve been doing that at record levels now for a number of years in a row. Second, our ability to execute against all of our growth and cost initiatives is at extremely high levels. And third, we are contained to benefit from global expansion.

Equifax has done a lot recently to expand beyond credit scores. What’s next?
It’s going to be transforming the company from not just a unique data company, which we are today, but to become a leader around the world in analytics and in fraud. Financially for us, the earnings will be a great year for us this year. You can expect continued, really solid top-line growth, significant margin expansion, and significant margin-per-share growth. You’ll see us continue to invest aggressively in fraud and identity management as well as analytics, and that will be organic investment as well as acquisitions.

What will the consumer look like in 2013?
Consumer credit, first of all, is improving. The U.S. consumer, and the global consumer, is deleveraging, which is a great thing. Corporations are deleveraging as well. So the health of the consumer is in better shape today than it has been in a number of years, which is good. As far as activity in the marketplace, we see a modest uptick. You see credit expanding in places like auto, for example, and student loans are still very, very high. Until unemployment comes down from 7.9 percent, you’re not going to get, I think, the consumer confidence you need to fuel GDP growth. I think 2013 for the consumer side is going to look very much like 2012, which is sluggish.

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