Zix Is Soaring -- Don't Expect It to Last

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Shares of email security expert Zix (Nasdaq: ZIXI  ) are soaring today after a strong third-quarter earnings report. Over the last year, the stock has returned more than 80% to happy shareholders, easily beating the market. It's a micro-business in the grand scheme of things, as 15% revenue growth year over year added up to just $9.0 million.

All around Zix, the competition is getting auctioned off to big-name IT powerhouses: IronPort now belongs to Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) , McAfee (NYSE: MFE  ) bought Secure Computing before in turn being swallowed by Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) , EMC (NYSE: EMC  ) is the proud owner of rival Authentica, and so on. You would think that in this environment, a nice little performer like Zix would be a quick and tasty snack for whoever is still hungry in the email security sector, but then you haven't seen the whole picture.

After that run-up, Zix now sports a $240 million market cap. That's 65 times trailing earnings and 28 times forward estimates, not to mention 40 times trailing free cash flows. Ten percent of the float was sold short at the end of September, and our CAPS investors have lots of angry things to say about management. It is, in fact, hard to find a technology company less liked by our CAPS players -- only 70% of the 727 players with an opinion like the company's chances to outperform the market. In addition, Zix is kind of a one-trick pony (and proud of it), effectively selling nothing but email encryption while the competition tends to heap value-added services on top of their equivalents.

With a trunk full of baggage like that, I find it hard to believe that any of the tech titans yet to show up at the security party would feel inclined to pay more than $200 million for Zix. If you bought this stock as buyout bait, I'm pretty sure you can find better bait elsewhere.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. The Fool has written calls (bull call spread) on Cisco Systems. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. The Fool owns shares of Intel. 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. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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 October 29, 2010, at 4:06 PM, thetruthsquad wrote:

    Your trailing and forward indicator calculations are incorrect. Additionally, it does not appear you fully understand the company. Other than that, you did a good job.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2010, at 12:45 PM, dborwick wrote:

    Although i am sure you are all very intelligent, I have done nothing but lose money by following your opinions. I have with AMD and now with Zixi. It is a shame since there are not too many boards that can be trusted but apparently there are certain people that contribute here that maybe should not.

    Good day.

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