McAfee Boots Up a Big Deal

McAfee (NYSE: MFE  ) CEO David DeWalt recently said that the security software market is expected to spike from $13 billion in 2006 to $31.4 billion by 2010. More importantly, he wants to make sure his company gets a big chunk of the market. So this week, he announced a $350 million acquisition for SafeBoot.

Based in the Netherlands, SafeBoot develops software to help secure laptops, smartphones, and other mobile devices. "SafeBoot's encryption sells well in Europe, where the culture of privacy and of proactive security buying dominates," said Nick Selby, director of the enterprise security practice at The 451 Group, in a Fool interview. "And with regulatory and commercial rulesets designed to guard privacy in the U.S., McAfee is making a good move here."

Over the past year, revenue has grown more than 60% and the renewals are about 99%. SafeBoot counts more than 4,200 customers, which include big heavyweights like Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) , AIG (NYSE: AIG  ) , and GE (NYSE: GE  ) .

But the growth may ramp up even further. After all, McAfee has a footprint of more than 100 million desktops. In fact, the company estimates that SafeBoot's market opportunity is pegged at $3.2 billion by 2011.

The valuation? It comes to about 5.8 times trailing-12-month revenues, which is reasonable in light of the company's growth rate. Keep in mind that last year, Check Point Software (Nasdaq: CHKP  ) bought rival Protect Data AB for eight times revenue.

Over the years, McAfee has refrained from big M&A deals as the company had to deal with accounting restatements, managerial turmoil, and restructurings. But David DeWalt, who was recently a top executive at EMC (NYSE: EMC  ) , has wasted little time getting things in order. And so far, its SafeBoot transaction looks spot-on and may even be a sign that McAfee is finally regaining some confidence.

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