Strong revenue growth in the fourth quarter helped Portland-based payment technology firm Wex Inc. achieve record revenue of $1.72 billion in 2019, the company reported Thursday.

Wex CEO Melissa Smith said, “If the company does well, it is a windfall for the state.”  Press Herald file photo

Wex said its revenue increased by 15 percent over 2018, the result of double-digit growth in its vehicle fleet, corporate travel, and health and employee benefits payment businesses.

“(Two thousand and nineteen) was another record year for Wex, capped off by an impressive fourth quarter driven by double-digit top-line growth and strong operating leverage,” Wex President and CEO Melissa Smith said in a prepared statement.

The company’s rapid growth is a good thing for Maine, Smith said in an interview.

“If the company does well, it is a windfall for the state,” she said.

Wex moved nearly 400 employees into a new downtown Portland headquarters last year and recently announced plans to develop a $50 million corporate campus at the Downs in Scarborough.

Moving a consolidated office to a location with room to grow was critical to the company’s future plans, Smith said. Wex has about 1,500 employees in Greater Portland and about 4,700 worldwide.

“It gives us the flexibility we need to continue to expand in Maine,” she said.

Attracting and retaining a talented workforce is the foremost challenge for the company’s growth in the state, Smith added. The Roux Institute at Northeastern University in Maine, a graduate school and industry-focused research institution announced last month, will help boost the region’s talent pool, she said.

Wex and nine other companies have signed on to be partners and provide students for the institute.

“We think of the institute as a mechanism to accelerate talent development and be able to tap into it,” Smith said.

Despite the revenue growth, Wex’s net income attributable to shareholders decreased significantly from the previous year. The company reported annual net income of $99 million, or $2.29 per share, down 41 percent from $168.3 million, or $3.86 per share, in 2018. However, before adjustments for one-time gains and losses, the company’s net income for the year increased by 11 percent from 2018 to $9.20 per share, Wex said.

Adjustments include unrealized gains and losses on financial instruments, net foreign currency gains and losses, acquisition-related intangible amortization, other acquisition and divestiture related items, stock-based compensation, restructuring and other costs, impairment charges, debt restructuring and debt issuance cost amortization, and certain tax-related items, the company said.

Wex reported revenue for the fourth quarter of $440 million, up 15 percent from $381.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. The company reported quarterly net income of $54.4 million, or $1.24 per share, up 153 percent from $21.3 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier.

Before adjustments for one-time gains and losses, Wex’s quarterly net income of $2.61 per share for the fourth quarter beat analyst expectations by 5 cents per share, according to the investor website Seeking Alpha. However, the company’s quarterly revenue fell short of expectations by $15.6 million.

Investors reacted positively to the earnings report, with the value of Wex shares increasing by about 3 percent to nearly $225 per share in the first 90 minutes of trading Thursday. Wex shares trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol WEX.

In August, Fortune Magazine listed Wex at No. 72 on its list of the 100 fastest-growing publicly traded companies.

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