It has been about a month since the last earnings report for F5 Networks (FFIV). Shares have added about 7.4% in that time frame, outperforming the S&P 500.
Will the recent positive trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is F5 due for a pullback? 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 catalysts.
F5 Networks Q4 Earnings Top Estimates, Outlook Impressive
F5 Networks reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter fiscal 2021 results. The company posted fiscal fourth-quarter non-GAAP earnings per share of $3.01, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.77.
Moreover, the quarterly earnings came in higher than management’s guidance of $2.68-$2.80 per share. Also, the non-GAAP earnings increased 23.9% from the year-ago quarter, mainly on solid revenues and efficient cost management.
Non-GAAP revenues climbed 11% year on year to $682 million, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $673.6 million on robust software and system growth. The top-line figure also comes in higher than the company’s guided range of $660-$680 million.
Product revenues (50% of total revenues), which comprise Software and Systems sub-divisions, went up 21%, year on year, to $340 million. Software sales jumped 35% year over year to $152 million, accounting for approximately 45% of the total Product revenues. System revenues climbed 12% to $188 million and accounted for the remaining 55% of the total Product revenues.
Global Service revenues (50% of total revenues) increased 2% to $342 million.
Additionally, the company noted that it is moving ahead with its strategy of transitioning the business into a subscription-based model. During the fiscal fourth quarter, subscriptions represented 80% of Software revenues, up from the previous quarter’s 78%.
Furthermore, F5 Networks registered sales growth across all regions, with the Americas, EMEA and APAC witnessing year-over-year increase of 11%, 11% and 9%, respectively. Revenue contributions from the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions were 59%, 24% and 17%, respectively.
Customer-wise, Enterprises, Service providers and Government represented 69%, 13% and 18%, respectively, of product bookings.
The GAAP gross margin contracted 70 basis points (bps) to 81.1%. The non-GAAP gross margin shrunk 70 bps to 83.7%.
The GAAP operating expenses flared up 5.7% year on year to $427 million, while the non-GAAP operating expenses rose 4.5% to $350 million. The company’s GAAP operating margin expanded 250 bps to 18.5%, while the non-GAAP operating margin improved 230 bps to 32.4%.
Balance Sheet & Cash Flow
F5 Networks exited the July-September quarter with cash and investments of $911 million compared with the previous quarter’s $863 million.
During the fiscal fourth quarter, the company generated $197 million of operating cash flow. During the reported quarter, it repurchased shares worth $100 million through Accelerated Share Repurchase transaction.
During fiscal 2021, the company generated operating cash flow of $645 million and bought back $500 million worth of its common stock.
The company issued an upbeat business outlook for the first quarter of fiscal 2022.
For the fiscal first quarter, F5 Networks projects non-GAAP revenues at $665-$685 million (mid-point $675 million). The Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues is pegged at $667.8 million.
The company anticipates non-GAAP earnings per share in the $2.71-$2.83 band (mid-point $2.77). The Zacks Consensus Estimate is pinned at $2.73.
For fiscal 2022, F5 Networks expects revenues to grow 8-9% on a year-over-year basis, including a 35-40% increase in software sales.
We believe surging demand for multi-cloud application services will be a key growth driver during the fiscal first quarter. In addition, solid demand for software solutions is a tailwind. Rising traction from subscription and Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) offerings is another driving factor.
Apart from this, F5 Networks and NGINX’s first combined solution — Controller 3.0 — will likely boost the total addressable market and deal sizes by spending more use cases across the 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 review.
At this time, F5 has a nice Growth Score of B, though it is lagging a lot on the Momentum Score front with a D. 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.
Estimates have been broadly trending upward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions looks promising. 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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