Why Proofpoint, 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 Proofpoint, (NASDAQ: PFPT  ) jumped nearly 11% Friday after the company's fourth-quarter results topped expectations.

So what: Quarterly sales rose 43%, to $40.8 million, which translated to an adjusted loss of $0.07 per share. By contrast, analysts were expecting a wider loss of $0.12 per share on sales of just $35.72 million. Meanwhile, Q4 billings arrived at $48.9 million, or an increase of 33% year over year.

In addition, Proofpoint expects full-year 2014 revenue in the range of $174.5 million to $176.5 million, with billings of $203 million to $205 million and an adjusted loss per share of $0.53 to $0.48. By comparison, Wall Street was modeling a 2014 loss of $0.29 per share on lower sales of $165.5 million.

Now what: The forward earnings miss might sound bad, but management blamed the discrepancy on plans to increase investments in both sales and R&D to "capitalize on the weakening competitive environment" in their fast-growing market. What's more, management also insists that, while losses will widen in the first part of 2014, they're expected to narrow over the course of the year, with a goal of breakeven results in the fourth quarter.

In the end, I can't blame investors for bidding shares up today. If Proofpoint can deliver on its promise in 2014, the stock could still be a bargain even after this pop.

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