Despite a global economic slowdown, SAS reported its sales increased 4.4 percent in 2002 to reach $1.18 billion.

It’s the 26th straight year of growth for SAS, the company said in a statement.

“In a difficult economic climate, SAS continued to grow,” said Jim Goodnight, president and CEO of SAS in a statement. “At a time when many of our competitors lost revenue and others relied on services to drive revenue growth, our software license revenue grew by 4 percent, making us the fifth largest independent enterprise software company worldwide by software license revenue.

“In addition to increasing revenue from our existing customer base, we signed 1,100 new customers.”

SAS said the most significant growth came in financial services and banking, up 25 percent. Insurance market sales increased 7 percent.

Customers spent more than $200 million on customer intelligence. Packaged analytical applications produced $293 million in revenue.

Goodnight pointed out that SAS increased its research and development spending by 6 percent. Overall, 25 percent of revenues were channeled into R&D efforts, he added. “I believe we’ll start to see the results of that investment in 2003,” Goodnight said.

In fact, the economy could drive more sales for SAS since its software helps “organizations cut costs, retain customers and predict behaviors and outcomes.”