Another Disappointing Quarter for Blue Coat

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Times are tough at Blue Coat Systems (Nasdaq: BCSI  ) . The company was originally scheduled to report its first-quarter earnings on Thursday but has decided to jump the gun and break the bad news to investors a little early, sending shares down to multiyear lows.

How bad could it be? Let's count the ways.

  • Revenue fell from the same quarter last year by 11% to $109.5 million, lower than the $113.4 million consensus.
  • Non-GAAP net income dropped to $0.18 per diluted share from last year's $0.40, lower than the $0.21 analysts were looking for.
  • Guidance for the second quarter also fell short. The company expects revenue between $103 million and $110 million, with EPS ranging from a loss of $0.04 to a profit of $0.04. Analysts were expecting $116 million revenue to generate $0.23 in earnings.
  • Gross margin continued to deteriorate sequentially, falling from 77.8% last quarter to 76.2%.
  • Blue Coat Systems CEO Michael Borman has departed the company, effective immediately. The company has already found a replacement CEO, Gregory Clark, who will begin next month. In the meantime, a current director, Carol Mills, will serve as interim CEO.

There's no sugarcoating it. This is a dismal earnings report. Blue Coat Chairman David Hanna admitted that the "results were disappointing as they came in below our expectations." Borman, meanwhile, is handing over the reins after being appointed CEO just last August. This doesn't give much credence to the notion that Blue Coat is going to be able to pull off a turnaround.

Competitor Websense (Nasdaq: WBSN  ) similarly reported numbers short of expectations, but at least that company is still growing. WAN-optimization leader Riverbed Technology (Nasdaq: RVBD  ) likewise was punished pretty heavily for a recent small miss, despite its underlying strength.

Blue Coat's disappointing release adds to its string of lackluster quarters. Fool Bryan Hinmon briefly suggested Blue Coat as a possible takeover candidate by bigger players like Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) or Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR  ) . That would really be the only happy ending for Blue Coat, because at this rate, shareholders have little to look forward to.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Riverbed Technology, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Fool owns shares of and has created a bull call spread position on Cisco Systems. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Cisco Systems and Riverbed Technology. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 17, 2011, at 5:39 PM, Mark4124NH wrote:

    Blue Coat said on its call that it is experiencing increasing competition from Riverbed and Cisco. Riverbed is the leader in the WAN optimization space, followed by Cisco. This report should have led Riverbed to trade up, not down, if the market had any sense. Riverbed may be in play as an acquisition target for Cisco, if Cisco wants to control WAN optimization. It would be a much better acquisition than Blue Coat, which is loosing share.

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Evan Niu

Evan is a Senior Technology Specialist at The Motley Fool. He was previously a Senior Trading Specialist at a major discount broker. Evan graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, and is a CFA charterholder.

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