Pitney Bowes Jumps to Two-Year High on Sales Growth Forecast

Pitney Bowes Inc., the 94-year-old postage-meter supplier trying to transform into an e-commerce company, surged 19 percent after forecasting its first revenue growth in six years.

The company’s shares jumped to $25.85 at the close in New York, reaching the highest level since April 2011. About 11.4 million shares changed hands, or 3.9 times the average volume in the past month. Today’s trading erased the losses in 2014, lifting the shares to an 11 percent gain for the year.

Pitney Bowes has shifted its focus to software and services for Internet retailers as consumers do more of their shopping online, leading to a slump in demand for traditional mail equipment. Sales will climb as much as 2 percent next year, the company said today in a statement. Analysts had estimated sales growth of less than 1 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“We’ve taken some of those skills to capitalize on the past, applied them in a new way and added technology to that,” Chief Financial Officer Mike Monahan said in an interview. “That’s our platform for growth.”

Pitney Bowes posted fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 53 cents, topping the average analyst estimate of 45 cents. Sales grew 1.5 percent to $1.03 billion, in line with analysts’ projections.

Today’s stock gain was the biggest since Jan. 31 of last year, when Pitney Bowes forecast sales growth of as much as 3 percent for 2013. It ultimately missed that target, with sales sliding 1.2 percent.

This year’s forecast is a range, with sales projected to climb as much as 2 percent or to decline as much as 1 percent, the company said.

Wrestling, Bags

Pitney Bowes got its start in 1920 as a producer of stamp postage meters. The company manages shipping logistics for companies like EBay Inc. and retailers ranging from the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. to messenger-bag seller Rickshaw Bagworks.

In December, the company announced a multiyear agreement with Twitter Inc. to provide location-mapping services for the microblogging site’s mobile-phone application. The pact followed Twitter’s hiring of its first head of commerce, Nathan Hubbard, as part of a push to enable shopping using the platform.

Digital commerce will help propel Pitney Bowes’s growth as its traditional-mail segments stagnate, Monahan said. Digital sales rose 17 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier and make up about 20 percent of the business, he said.

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