The market for network performance appliances has become so competitive that Riverbed Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:RVBD) now trades at a below-market earnings multiple of 12. With the purchase of OPNET last year, the network performance company for globally connected enterprises is facing a weak market for network equipment while it still works to achieve the synergies promised as part of the merger
The network equipment sector is facing a couple of trends that impact revenue, including weak government spending and a transition to software or virtual based solutions. Not to mention that both Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) and F5 Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFIV) have become more formidable competitors recently. These combined issues have caused investors to sell Riverbed down to an attractive valuation.
With the maturing of the core WAN optimization market, Riverbed Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:RVBD) seized the opportunity to purchase a strong application performance management product company and expand it with the Riverbed distribution network. OPNET had limited international distribution and a weak enterprise sales profile. With the integration of the sales force during Q2, the combined company expects to achieve considerable synergies going forward.
The company wins with the only combined end-to-end solution in the network performance management and application performance management products. The increased distribution should help sell more OPNET products even without the synergy and combined solution benefits.
Also, importantly Riverbed Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:RVBD) saw a strong 19% year-over-year increase in the US enterprise market, suggesting that the weakness in Europe and Asia could lead to strength in the second half of the year. The fears of a maturing WAN optimization market might be overdone with the real damage done by lower government spending and weak international economies that impacted all technology sectors.
If the market wasn’t tough enough with the sequester in the US and austerity cuts in Europe, Riverbed Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:RVBD) appears to be facing tougher competition in the core WAN optimization market. According to UBS, Riverbed’s market share fell from approximately 43% in the prior year to only 40% in Q1. Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) was able to maintain share at around 20% while F5 Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFIV) grew to 7% of the market. Combined, the three firms control only 70% of the market, providing the ability to gain share in a market that still remains rather fragmented for a mature area.
While this data doesn’t back up the claims of Riverbed Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:RVBD) management that it controls 50% of the market and wins 90% of the deals where it competes against Cisco, it does highlight a major concern for investors. Both Cisco and F5 are considerably larger firms with strong balance sheets, but companies that focus primarily on other markets.