Seattle’s F5 Networks ended its 2017 fiscal year on an up note, posting revenue and net income that exceeded analyst expectations after a couple of rough quarters to start new CEO Francois Locoh-Donou’s tenure at the company.
For the fourth quarter, revenue was $538 million, up 2.4 percent from the same period last year. That’s hardly exciting growth, but financial analysts were expecting the company to post $534.8 million in revenue, which initially gave F5’s stock a bit of a boost in after-hours trading Wednesday.
Net income during the quarter was $135.7 million, or $2.14 a share, up 25 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. Excluding a whole host of special items, including restructuring charges related to layoffs this past summer, non-GAAP earnings per share was $2.44 per diluted share. Analysts were expecting $2.21 in non-GAAP earnings per share.
But the good news came with some disappointing news, as F5 forecast that revenue in the current quarter will be around $520 million, well below the $531 million that analysts were projecting the company would take in during that quarter. That reversed F5’s after-hours momentum ahead of a conference call to discuss the results. After the quarter ended, F5 directors also authorized $1 billion in share buybacks, it said.
“There (are) potential grteat drivers of product revenue growth — long-term drivers for the company — where we are doing very well,” Locoh-Donou said on the conference call. F5’s virtual application delivery controller business grew 35 percent compared to last year, and security is also showing promise as a growth area, he said.
F5 has been facing many of the same problems that other technology companies have run into amid the growth of cloud computing. With the market for its application delivery controllers stagnating, F5 has been plunging resources into improving its software and services products, but that is a transition that takes some time.
The company laid off around 140 workers in September, six months after Locoh-Donou took the top job after a few tumultuous years in the CEO’s office at F5. The company is preparing to move into the former Mark building (pictured above) in downtown Seattle in 2019.
“Some of the investments and reliangements we’ve made in the quarter are all about making sure we maximize the resources that we’re putting in front of the highest growth areas of the company,” Locoh-Donou said.
(Editor’s note: This story was updated several times as more information became available and after the earnings call.)