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Aloha from Hawaii...

Aloha, everyone! After several years of sticking close to home, the whole family fled the freezing Northeast and hit Hawaii for a well-deserved vacation. For those of you who are still shoveling snow, you have my sympathy.

When I introduced the new TradingStockAlerts Free Stock Screener, I mentioned that I'd soon be away from the office and that data on the new screener and on Trade-Radar would be going stale while I was out of the office. As it turns out, I have been able to update the data on both sites on the usual schedule thanks to a neat piece of software from a company called LogMeIn.

Background --

LogMeIn provides solutions that allow you to remotely manage computers. In my case, I have a laptop in Hawaii and I am able to control the computer in the office that runs all the Trade-Radar analysis programs. I install a piece of software on the office computer which runs as a service. It waits for a request to access the computer and handles security (a password is required and encryption is used) and the managing of the keystrokes and screen views. On my laptop, I use a Firefox plugin that handles the other end of the security and displays the screen on the office computer. It was super simple to sign up, get the software installed and then to use it as needed.

LogMeIn utilizes the "freemium" business model. They have a free account that allows you to manage one computer. During the trial period, full functionality is available. This includes file transfers, desktop sharing, using the printer, listening to MP3s, collaboration, computer monitoring, maintenance and alerts. In the Pro version, you can access thousands of remote computers. After the trial period ends, only basic single computer access is allowed. The expectation is that users will eventually want to upgrade to the paid premium plans. This upgrade path is where the company's revenue growth will be derived.

The financials --

Whew, this company is expensive! Some common valuation measures are sky high: PE over 55, PEG is 2.36, price-to-sales is over 10, enterprise value to EBITDA is over 45.

On the other hand, the company might very well be plugged into a niche that is ready for strong growth and, as has often been said, growth is often not cheap.

The niche --

The idea of controlling computers remotely is not new. It is something that network and PC administrators in large enterprises have been doing for ages. What is interesting about this niche now is that the surge in personal, portable computing platforms could really increase the demand for this kind of service.

With smart phones and tablets becoming pervasive, people are more connected than ever but, so far, these devices can't do the heavy lifting that a real PC or a server can do. Editing big Word docs or presentations, for example, are things that thus far aren't really viable on most of these kinds of devices. Similarly, modifying a piece of software requires a full development environment, something that would be extremely difficult to implement on an iPhone or iPad.

Conclusion --

LogMeIn offers simple remote PC and server administration for professional enterprise system admins as well as similar capabilities for individuals. Want to edit a PowerPoint presentation from your iPhone? LogMeIn can help with that. Want to run a batch program from your iPad and then check the results before sending output files somewhere? LogMeIn can help with that, too. The fact that the company is targeting individuals and their personal computing needs is what sets the company apart from the companies that are more focused on the enterprise market. The growing need of the personal segment to be able to access more powerful computing platforms from a phone or tablet plays to the company's strength.

It will be interesting to see whether the niche expands as strongly as my analysis suggests it might. If I'm right, LogMeIn and its competitors have a bright future.

Disclosure: no positions

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