Why Big Data Is Such a Big Deal

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Qlik Technologies (NAS: QLIK) is part of a wave of companies exploiting a fairly new and not-yet widely understood market. And as its most recent earnings reveal, Qlik and its cohorts (or would that be "qohorts"?) are growing like the dollar weeds in your back yard.

More data, more problems
We're all getting really good at generating tons of data. Whether it's minute details of retail purchases and business transactions, geo-tracking data for railcars or smartphones, or browsing habits, every move you make (and every breath you take) ends up recorded in a pile of digital bits -- and the results get stuffed into massive databases.

But how can the business that collected this data turn it into valuable information and actionable business intelligence? Big Data is a big deal, because making sense of it all can be a very hard problem.

That's where business intelligence software comes in. After you build that enormous IBM (NYS: IBM) DB2 or Oracle (NAS: ORCL) database, you'll need some muscular analytics to wring meaning from it. And though Oracle, Big Blue, and Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) dabble in BI, lesser-known firms such as TIBCO Software (NAS: TIBX) , privately held Tableau, Teradata (NYS: TDC) , and Qlik are all becoming powerhouses in their own right.

Big Data, big dollars
For proof, look at the fresh second-quarter report from Qlik. In a seasonally weak quarter, the data-visualization expert saw revenue jump 45% year over year to $74 million. Third-quarter guidance points to another 40% annual leap. Qlik booked $0.01 of non-GAAP earnings per diluted share. The company tends to report minimal net income or small losses throughout the year, until the fourth quarter comes along with a sudden surge of sales. Thanks to a mostly fixed cost structure, that's when the profits arrive.

Qlik fills a niche within a niche, since its workhorse product competes with a small part of Tibco's or Microsoft's BI tools. But it's an important niche, to be sure, and sure to grow in both importance and revenue in coming years.

Value hounds, beware: This two-time Rule Breakers recommendation trades at a scorching 200 times trailing earnings, even using generous adjusted earnings. That level makes even Tibco look cheap by comparison. By the way, both stocks have nearly doubled over the last year.

If Qlik has piqued your interest in Big Data investing, let me point you to a special report that describes the opportunity in much greater detail. "The Only Stock You Need To Profit From the NEW Technology Revolution" shows you why only a handful of companies are set up to capitalize on this blossoming market. Grab your copy right now -- it's totally free!

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Qlik Technologies.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Teradata, Qlik Technologies, and Microsoft. We have also recommended creating a covered collar position in Microsoft and shorting Tibco Software. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. You can check outAnders' holdings and a concise bio, follow him onTwitterorGoogle+, or peruseour Foolish disclosure policy.

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