Why F5 Networks, Inc. Shares Popped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of F5 Networks, (NASDAQ: FFIV  ) rose more than 10% during Thursday's intraday trading, then settled to close up around 5% after the company not only released solid fiscal first quarter 2014 results, but also issued encouraging guidance and increased its existing share repurchase program.

So what: Quarterly revenue rose 11% year over year to $406.5 million, which translated to a 7% increase in adjusted net income to $1.22 per diluted share. By contrast, analysts were looking for net income of $1.19 per share on sales of just $396.33 million.

Better yet, F5 asserted its current quarter revenue target is $408 million to $418 million, with non-GAAP earnings per share of $1.23 to $1.26. The midpoint of both ranges easily exceeds current expectations for earnings of $1.22 on sales of $405.07 million.

Finally, F5 authorized another $500 million for the company's existing stock repurchase program, bringing its current total amount available for repurchases to $781.3 million -- and that's after F5 spent roughly $200 million repurchasing 2.4 million shares of common stock last quarter.

Now what: However, given F5's relatively sluggish revenue and earnings growth, I can't help but think investors would be better off if management instead chose to issue a dividend in lieu of its massive buybacks. And while the business appears healthy, I still don't think the stock looks particularly cheap, trading around 30 times last year's earnings, and 17.5 times next year's estimates.

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