While most investors were focusing on the carnage at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), some of us were looking at a stock that is benefiting from many of the drivers created by the iPhone. In fact, F5 Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFIV) benefits from any kind of smartphone, tablet device or anything else that increases the necessity for corporations to move bandwidth rich applications around the Internet. F5 reported a good set of results and there are plenty of profit drivers for 2013. I like the stock and continue to hold; here is why.
F5 Networks Reports In-Line
The numbers were in line with the internal guidance given in the last quarter.
1). Q1 Revenues of $365.5 million vs. guidance of $363-370 million
2). Q1 Non-GAAP EPS of $1.14 vs. guidance of $1.14-1.16
3). Q2 Revenue Guidance of $370-380 million vs. analyst consensus of $378 million
4). Q2 Non-GAAP EPS Guidance of $1.21-1.24 vs. analyst consensus of $1.20
In summary, the results were at the lower end of previous guidance, but going forward the internal forecast was stronger than the market had anticipated. I confess I thought that F5 would give a decent set of numbers when I bought some more of the stock at the last results. As outlined in a previous article there were a few upside catalysts for F5 and it seemed to execute well with them in this quarter. The good news is that they can contribute even more in 2013.
F5 Networks' Upside Potential
On the conference call management reiterated the forecast that the second half of fiscal 2013 would see better relative results than the first and, with the good guidance for Q2, the market took heart that F5 was headed for a strong year. Growth remains in double digit territory despite a challenging tech environment.
Things look good for F5 due to the following points.
1). New hardware and software (which started shipping at the end of the quarter) will create a product refresh cycle.
2). Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) pulled out of the application delivery controller (ADC) market and F5 has plenty of potential to replace Cisco.
3). Telco is a key vertical and carrier spending appears to be making a comeback.
4). US Government and Japan were weaker than expected in the quarter, and there is potential for resumption of growth in 2013.
Starting with the industry verticals, Telco was stronger this quarter and snapped a declining streak while Government was declared to be behind internal forecast even if this is traditionally a weak quarter for Federal revenues.Telco was impressive this quarter, and F5 referenced a lot of interest in its products coming from mobile. This makes sense because if the carriers do ramp up spending it will surely be more on the wireless side. Federal spending is likely to come back a bit after the fiscal cliff issues are resolved.
With the Technology segment, management stated that the weakness was due to a couple major customers who were building IT architecture that required F5 to invest in producing solutions that integrated its functionality within their applications. The hope is that these revenues can come back in a few quarters. Lastly the Financial vertical remains strong, and if you have seen how some floors of investment banks are becoming data centers thanks to the amount of quant based trading going on, then you would understand too.