It has been about a month since the last earnings report for F5 Networks (FFIV). Shares have lost about 3.1% 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 the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important drivers.
F5 Networks Q3 Earnings Beat, Q4 Outlook Encouraging
F5 Networks reported third-quarter fiscal 2020 non-GAAP earnings per share of $2.18, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.05. Moreover, the company’s quarterly earnings came in significantly higher than its guidance of $1.91-$2.13 per share. Nonetheless, non-GAAP earnings fell 13.5% from the year-ago quarter as elevated operating expenses offset the benefit of higher revenues to a large extent.
Non-GAAP revenues increased 4% year over year to $586 million, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $572 million on solid software growth. Also, revenues came in ahead of the company’s $555-$585 million guided range.
Product revenues (43% of total revenues) during the quarter totaled $253 million, up 1.8% year over year. Software sales soared 43% year over year. This upside can be attributed to the growing adoption of the Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) and annual subscriptions among customers.
Service revenues (57% of total revenues) increased 4.9% to $330 million. Improvements to the tools and processes that the company’s team uses to identify and secure renewals are among the key catalysts. Further, healthy services attached in renewal rates to software sold as perpetual or as subscriptions, including NGINX-related sales, were tailwinds. Moreover, increase in consulting-services demand associated with the rising software sales is an upside.
Gross profit inched up 1% year over year to $477 million. However, gross margin contracted 210 basis points (bps) to 81.8%.
Operating expenses flared up 5.3% year on year to $390 million. As a result of lower gross margin and higher operating expenses, the company’s non-GAAP operating margin shrunk 320 bps to 15%.
Balance Sheet & Cash Flow
F5 Networks exited the reported quarter with cash and investments of $1.1 billion compared with the prior-year quarter’s $1 billion.
During the first nine months of fiscal 2020, the company generated $485 million of operating cash flow. Moreover, during the same time frame, it bought back $50 million worth of its common stocks.
The company issued an encouraging business outlook for the fiscal fourth quarter.
For the fiscal fourth quarter, F5 Networks expects non-GAAP revenues of $595-$615 million. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues is pegged at $592.9 million.
The company anticipates non-GAAP earnings per share in the $2.30-$2.42 band. The Zacks Consensus Estimate is pinned at $2.21.
We believe that surging demand for multi-cloud application services will be a key growth driver. Furthermore, solid demand for software solutions is a tailwind. Rising traction from subscription and ELA offerings is another driving factor.
Additionally, F5 Networks and NGINX’s first combined solution, Controller 3.0, is expected to increase the total addressable market and deal sizes by spending more use cases across DevOps and Super-NetOps customer profiles.
How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?
In the past month, investors have witnessed an upward trend in estimates revision. The consensus estimate has shifted 11.65% due to these changes.
At this time, F5 has a subpar Growth Score of D, however its Momentum Score is doing a lot better with a B. Following the exact same course, the stock was allocated a grade of B on the value side, putting it in the second quintile 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.
Estimates have been broadly trending upward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions looks promising. It comes with little surprise F5 has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). We expect an above average return from the stock in the next few months.
Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
F5 Networks, Inc. (FFIV) : Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.