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Why Is F5 (FFIV) Down 2.3% Since Last Earnings Report?

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A month has gone by since the last earnings report for F5 Networks (FFIV - Free Report) . Shares have lost about 2.3% in that time frame, underperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is F5 due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at its most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important drivers.

F5 Networks Reports Q4 Results

F5 Networks reported fourth-quarter fiscal 2019 GAAP earnings per share of $2.59, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.55 but decreasing 10.7% year over year.

The NGINX acquisition-related expenses affected the bottom line.

F5 Networks revenues rose 5% year over year to $590.4 million, and also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $583 million. Notably, customer demand for consistent application security and reliable application performance across multi-cloud environments contributed to revenue growth. Moreover, the acquisition of NGINX contributed a little more than $8 million to revenues.

Quarterly Details

Products revenues (45% of total revenues) during the quarter totaled $265 million, up 3% year over year, driven by Software.

Software soared 91% year over year and represented 31% of product revenues. This upside can be attributed to the growing adoption of the Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) and annual subscriptions among customers.

Software growth is consistently aided by security use cases, which include web application firewall, bot-defense and mitigation.

During the quarter, F5 Networks secured an all-software use case with Rakuten for Gi firewall.

Systems revenues, representing 69% of product revenues, declined 15% on a year-over-year basis due to continued transition of customers to software-based solutions.

Services revenues (55%) increased 6% to $325 million.

Region wise, on a year-over-year basis, revenues from the Americas — reflecting 59% of the total count — grew 11%. APAC revenues fell 2% and represented 18% of the total top line. EMEA was fell 3% and accounted for 23% of total revenues.

Going by the verticals, Enterprise, Service providers and Government (including 13% from the U.S. Federal) depicted 61%, 17% and 22% of the total product bookings, respectively.

The company’s distributor Ingram Micro translated to 18% of the company’s revenues. Tech Data and Carahsoft contributed 10% each to the total revenue base.

F5 Networks is focusing on incorporating more automation and orchestration on its platforms to enable quicker application provisioning.

Moreover, the company is enabling application services consumption in native container environment with NGINX. During the quarter, the company secured a F5-NGINX deal with a financial tech company in the EMEA region.

Margins

Non-GAAP gross margin expanded 160 basis points (bps) year over year to 86.3% during the quarter.

Non-GAAP operating margin contracted 540 bps to 32.6%. This was primarily due to higher non-GAAP operating expenses as a result of higher sales commissions on software sales.

Moreover, the NGINX acquisition-related cost of $8.1 million was also an overhang on margins.

Balance Sheet & Cash Flow

F5 Networks exited the quarter with cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of approximately $972.3 million compared with $986.5 million in the prior quarter.

Long-term liabilities were $523.3 million compared with $481 million in the previous quarter.

The company reported cash flow of $206 million from operations.

Full-Year Fiscal 2019 Highlights

During full-year fiscal 2019, F5 Networks generated $2.24 billion in revenues, up 4% year over year.

Non-GAAP earnings of $10.36 were higher than $9.87 in fiscal 2018.

Acquisition-related costs of $41.7 million from the NGINX buyout were incurred during the year.

Outlook

Management remains optimistic that increasing demand for the multi-cloud application services will be a key driver. Rising traction of subscription and ELA offerings is a tailwind.

For first-quarter fiscal 2020, F5 Networks expects revenues in the range of $560-$570 million (mid-point $565 million). The Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues is pegged at $566.9 million.

The company anticipates non-GAAP earnings per share in the band of $2.41-$2.44. The Zacks Consensus Estimate is pegged at $2.46.

The company expects to incur operating expenses of $296-$308 million.

F5 Networks also expects operating margins to contract in the first and second quarters of fiscal 2020, expanding thereafter, based on seasonal pattern.

Moreover, F5 Networks and NGINX’s first combined solution is expected to increase the total addressable market and deal sizes by spending more use cases across DevOps and Super-NetOps customer profiles. This solution is likely to release toward the end of January 2020.
 

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

In the past month, investors have witnessed a downward trend in estimates review.

VGM Scores

Currently, F5 has an average Growth Score of C, however its Momentum Score is doing a bit better with a B. Charting a somewhat similar path, the stock was allocated a grade of C on the value side, putting it in the middle 20% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of C. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

Outlook

Estimates have been broadly trending downward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions indicates a downward shift. Notably, F5 has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.


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