Interesting, although not surprising, how a few typical editorials are trying to do damage control on today's results and guidance. There is no way on any plane of reality that today's news is anything less than very concerning and ominous. At a time where so much is on the line for planning and restructuring, and back room negotiations, today's news should be taken VERY seriously and not just brushed off as nothing to be worried about. It is indeed a major concern and investors need to pay attention and make good decisions about when to debark a titanic who's share price is already excessive based purely on future corporate actions. The P/E is now again ridiculous for a no-growth company being eaten alive by competition and with no real future innovation strategy. And now again one of our favorite re-used excuses over the years- currency headwinds. What is happening as of Symantec 5.0 is simply a desperate attempt to save the insider stakeholders via more musical chairs and restructuring plans. Good luck with that.
Again, the critical takeaway in all this is the miss in today's earnings combined with lowered forecast. In a time as critical as this, it is a really bad omen because you can be assured "leadership" is pulling out every stop and trick in the book to keep the shares propped. So if they STILL fell short you can bet the state of affairs internally, and the actual business outlook, is a lot worse than anybody is letting on.
As to the separation date being pushed to Jan 2016, that may be an actual start time frame, or it could be slightly pushed back, hard to say without more context. But a separation is the worse of all scenarios, it will not create shareholder value, rather it will expose the real state of affairs. Rather, the company needs to take any near-term lumps and cash-sell the Veritas piece or else find a competent CEO with solid business background AND a solid technical background in either security or storage. Anything other than those two options is going to end badly, eventually.
Lining their pockets as has been the case for a decade now. The strategy still hasn't changed, just a new set of smoke and mirrors to try and mask the real state of affairs.
Analyst expectations were 45 cents, and in a typical good quarter Symantec would have beat that by a few cents. So indeed there is a rather sizable miss today, which, taken in conjunction with revs and forecast, paints a very concerning picture, especially when taken in context WRT how critical these quarterly results are in the midst of structural planning and negotiations. This is a huge warning sign that should not be overlooked.
From WallSt 24/7: "Symantec offered no insight into what went into its guidance, but the proposed separation of its two businesses, due to be completed by the end of the year, does not appear to be the culprit. The guidance for the full year will weigh the stock down heavily tonight and tomorrow."
Again, the company will probably continue to try and prop shares via purchase but this stunt can only continue just so long before the inevitable occurs. Investors need to remember that now is the most critical time to keep the price propped to spin whatever deals are being attempted behind closed doors, so every imaginable trick in the book has been, and continues to be, played out. But this cannot continue indefinitely, and today's earnings & outlook should be taken as a very serious indicator that the game is running out of steam.
Just as suspected, a miss on revs and earnings, forecast as well. The share price over the last month showed very clear signs of being bought up (propped up) by the company in preparation for the bad news today.
Warning again: This stock remains a completely manipulated vehicle at this point and the current share price is unjustly bloated having every possible rosy expectation of restructuring already built in, in conjunction with buy-back propping. This situation is an accident waiting to happen with very little potential upside and a lot of potential downside should anything whatsoever go off the rails (or reality sets in to investors and/or the market)
Investors need to look at the history, little has essentially changed other than the share price is significantly overvalued. The same struggles, chaos, manipulation, lack of growth, market share erosion and competition still remain - and continue to expand, further weaken the company. And separating the company may very well make things even worse for all stakeholders. An outright sale or new, truly qualified CEO are likely the only viable hopes.
The simple reality is, in spite of many entities screaming for years for a major restructuring, a public spin-off of the Veritas division is one of the worse actions that could be undertaken some 10 years after the original acquisition. There has already been plenty of research into this option over the last 5 years and it was always deemed a bad idea. For those same reasons it remains a bad idea today. There are clearly better alternatives. Such as leaving Veritas as part of Symantec but operating and accounting for it going forward as a separate entity that allows stakeholders to have proper transparency. Or one of the best options would be for an outright sale of the Veritas unit, regardless of near-term side effects, and use the proceeds to regain solid footing as the industry security leader. Or lastly, simply hire a proper CEO who actually understands how to run a large, complex technology company. Over the long haul, any of these options will be far better for all stakeholders than spinning off Veritas as a public entity. Rest assured, if a public spin-off actually transpires there is going to eventually be even more chaos, confusion and shareholder damage than has already been endured. That kind of surgery on an already crippled patient will only result in further injury and limit future options as well.
So the dance continues. First the original cover story, meanwhile behind the scenes the company was being engineered for sale. But when the company cannot find a buyer willing to pay an over-inflated premium, they resorts to leaking the story. And then continues the public ruse of proceeding down the previously pronounced path of a public split. Notice the company did not deny any of the allegations of being on the block for sale. Anyway, the dance continues. We are now in the implied threat phase. That being, [We are talking to your competitors so either step up, buy and over-pay, or we will go public and make things difficult and more expensive for you later, or end up in the hands of one of your competitors]. Ultimately I suspect some kind of sale, but the fact is, no matter the price, a sale will be a far better option over the long haul than splitting Symantec into two public companies. Symantec needs to again get laser focused on security if it hopes to survive and grow again. However, those at the helm who stand to benefit most from a sale are unlikely to have the patience to do the right thing, rather want maximum short term gratification. So whether or not this all ends well remains to be seen. Shares are already dangerously priced assuming maximum optimistic outcome. The risk balance is weighted more to the downside on a competitive, execution and currency basis, so investors need to exercise extreme caution. The game is definitely under way.
The history of Symantec is fairly well know, initially being a security company followed by the biggest M&A disaster in high-tech history with the Veritas acquisition for $13 billion. After blowing roughly ANOTHER $10 billion on more M&A and ousting two CEO's, Steve Bennett took over with a Symantec 4.0 initiative. This initiative was going fairly well and brought a lot of badly needed internal clean-up and change. However the Board and activists grew impatient and it became clear the story that had been sold to investors was not altogether forthright or attainable, and the business was continuing to weaken. After all, the company has fallen way behind in technology and continues to suffer market share erosion and increased competition. Growth has been nearly non-existent for many years with no probability for meaningful change. So rather than risk loosing their golden goose, the board recently announced a spin-off of the Veritas business, but this was never the real story. Intead the company was being advised, prepping and planning for a potential sale of that division, provided they could find a suitor gullible enough to overpay for it. For the last year the company has been playing every trick in the book to keep the share price propped up, buybacks, cutting costs, etc in attempts to make the Veritas business appear worth a lot more than it is. The business is worth no more than $6 billion, a vivid testament to failure given the company paid $13 billion. The "leaked" news of an attempted sale is likely due to increasingly declining business conditions further fueled by currency headwinds, etc. It would not be surprising to see a weak quarterly report as well, which would explain the timing of the "leak". Either way, the company is still in chaos and the shares are again overpriced, factoring in a best-case scenario which does not exist in practical reality. Investors need to look carefully beyond the smoke-n-mirrors being perpetrated in this game.