SAPIENT CORP. Sapient joins ranks of blue-chip stocks

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sapient corp. had its coming-out party last month.

The i-shop joined Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, becoming the first pure-play Internet services business to dive into the pool of blue-chip companies. Wall Street approved of the move, spiking the Internet company's stock more than 25%. The stock trades north of $100, compared to less than $50 a year ago.

Joining the S&P caps a lucrative year for Sapient, which helps businesses establish Web presences. Last year it had net income of $30.3 million, three times its year-earlier profit, as revenue jumped 68% to $276.8 million. In the first quarter, Sapient reported net income of $11.9 million, almost triple year-ago results, as revenue rocketed 83% to $100.3 million.

"We help people build businesses for the new economy," says Jerry Greenberg, co-chairman-CEO and co-founder of a company so old -- nine years -- that it predates the World Wide Web. Clients range from start-ups such as sweepstakes Web site iWon to large players such as Janus or Staples.

INTEGRATED STRATEGY

"It's very hard for us to pull apart the pieces of it -- the strategy, the marketing strategy, all the creative work and research" are integrated, he says.

Mr. Greenberg co-founded Sapient in 1991, when he was in his mid-'20s and the World Wide Web hadn't been conceived. While most of Sapient's revenue comes from U.S. clients, Mr. Greenberg says to expect strong growth in Asia, Europe and South America. For example, it recently took Swiss bank Pictet & Cie online. Sapient is also aggressive in developing wireless applications for its clients.

Unlike some competitors, Sapient, whose services range from back-end systems integration to creating online stores, has grown largely from within. It has done some acquisitions, four to date that include creative Web design shops Adjacency and Studio Archetype, which was founded by noted designer Clement Mok.

"The impact to our clients has been phenomenal because the things we can do today we couldn't do four years ago," Mr. Greenberg says.

Meshing skills -- ranging from technology and strategy to creative and psychology -- isn't easy, he admits.

"At first blush, it looks almost impossible," he says. "You can't just bring them together and expect it to work day one. I'm glad we've only used acquisitions in a limited way to make us smarter."

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