Sticky revenue winners. Here are the 5 best ASX SaaS shares of 2021

These five companies showed their 'SaaSy' side and won investors over last year…

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ASX software-as-a-service (SaaS) shares proved their worth last year. The business model focused on sticky recurring revenues that brought home the cheese for some Aussie-listed companies in 2021.

Interestingly, often SaaS shares slot into the information technology sector. This is a sector that severely underperformed the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) in 2021, with tech sliding 2.8% while the broader market rallied 13%. Yet, a number of SaaS companies racked up market-beating returns for their shareholders.

Let's take a look.

ASX SaaS shares giving investors the juiciest rewards last year

Imdex Limited (ASX: IMD)

Shares in ASX-listed Imdex hit a home run last year, with the share price rallying 71% during the year.

The mining equipment and technology company attracted the market's attention with a solid FY21 result. Impressively, the $1.12 billion company increased its revenue by 11.2% to $264.4 million year on year. Additionally, net profits surged 45% to $31.67 million.

While a substantial portion of the company's revenue is comprised of once-off sales and equipment rentals, there is a growing portion of SaaS-based revenue. Between FY17 to FY21, rental and SaaS revenue has increased from 44% to 57% of total revenue.

Readytech Holdings Ltd (ASX: RDY)

Entering the arena of the five best ASX SaaS shares of 2021 is ReadyTech Holdings. This company provides cloud-based software to the education, employment, and government sectors. For shareholders, ReadyTech also provided sizeable returns last year — rising 87% in the 12-month timeframe.

According to its FY21 full year presentation, the education software provider achieved respectable growth during the financial year. For instance, revenue increased 27.4% to $50 million compared to the previous year.

Although, earnings decreased to $2.16 million from $3.94 million. However, it's worth noting ReadyTech acquired Open Office for an upfront price of $54 million during this time.

WiseTech Global Ltd (ASX: WTC)

Making the podium finish is cloud-based logistics software provider, WiseTech Global. In 2021, the company dished out a 90% gain to investors.

WiseTech continued to grow its top line during 2021, a year plagued by supply chain and logistics issues. Perhaps this enabled a more robust trading period for the ASX SaaS share. In FY21, revenue increased 18% to $507 million compared to the prior corresponding period.

Additionally, the sticky nature of the company's software was reflected in its percentage of recurring revenue, at nearly 96%.

Janison Education Group Ltd (ASX: JAN)

Breaking into the 100%-plus return club last year and finding itself as the second best-performing ASX SaaS share is Janison Education. The online school assessments provider experienced a 130% rise in its share price in 2021 — a 10 times better return than the benchmark index.

For those unaware, Janison offers assessment platforms to a wide array of customers including the New South Wales government, NAPLAN, Chartered Accountants, and the University of London — to name a few. It appears shareholders weren't too concerned about the widening losses in FY21. Notably, the company grew revenue by 38% to $30.2 million.

Janison has $80 million to $100 million in revenue on its radar through growing its customer contracts and consolidating the digital assessments industry with its acquisition strategy.

Life360 Inc (ASX: 360)

Taking the top spot as the best ASX SaaS share of 2021 is the high-flying family safety service, Life360. Shares in the company gained an impressive 156% in a busy year.

Investors took a closer look at Life360 after Randi Zuckerberg joined the board of the company. At the time, this was considered a vote of confidence to Wilson Asset Management portfolio manager Tobias Yao.

Since then, the company has gone on to make two acquisitions — Jiobit and Tile. These acquisitions totalled more than $200 million worth of investments in 2021.

Motley Fool contributor Mitchell Lawler has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns and has recommended Imdex Limited, Janison Education Group Limited, Life360, Inc., Readytech Holdings Ltd, and WiseTech Global. The Motley Fool Australia owns and has recommended WiseTech Global. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Janison Education Group Limited and Readytech Holdings Ltd. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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