Relief for Blue Coat Systems

It's been a bouncy public road for WAN optimization specialist Blue Coat Systems (Nasdaq: BCSI  ) .

The company goes through wild mood swings. Sometimes its quarterly earnings releases come out disappointing, while at other times they surprisingly beat expectations. Well, it seems that Blue Coat's jumpy ways have attracted the attention of a private suitor.

San Francisco-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo has agreed to acquire the networking and Web security company for $1.3 billion. According to the official press release, Blue Coat shareholders can look forward to pocketing $25.81 per share in cash, representing a healthy 48% premium over yesterday's close, and knocking my CAPS score down a few notches in the process (as if the past couple months haven't been brutal enough).

I had made an "underperform" CAPScall back in June with a start price of $21.42. Yesterday's close of $17.48 represented a negative 18% over the past six months, earning me some points. My real-money pick in the WAN optimization sector is Riverbed Technologies (Nasdaq: RVBD  ) , which happens to be putting up major revenue gains compared to Blue Coat's shrinking top line, even if the figures top estimates.

The company also faces stiff competition from the likes of Websense (Nasdaq: WBSN  ) and F5 Networks (Nasdaq: FFIV  ) in web security and network optimization. Riverbed and Websense in particular are enjoying some nice gains today spurred by the mergers and acquisition activity.

Blue Coat has been flailing for quite some time, even replacing the CEO in August due to the missteps. The company had been on a string of missing its own performance targets, and was failing to effectively market its goods.

In July, fellow Fool Bryan Hinmon had even broached the possibility of Blue Coat being acquired by a larger networking rival like Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) or Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR  ) . I thought this was "the only happy ending for Blue Coat, because at this rate, shareholders have little to look forward to." That gleeful finale has come to fruition -- even though the buyer turned out to be different.

The acquisition is Thoma Bravo's fifth security technology platform investment, so hopefully the private equity firm will be able to realize some cost synergies and help implement a meaningful turnaround for Blue Coat. Investors can breathe a sigh of relief, as Blue Coat's public days are over.

With Blue Coat going private, there's no sense in adding it to your Watchlist. Instead, sign up for a free trial of Motley Fool Rule Breakers to read why Riverbed Technologies may deserve a spot in your portfolio.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Riverbed Technology, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see 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, as well as writing covered calls in Riverbed Technology. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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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