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Palo Alto Networks Pops As Customer Growth Accelerates

By Steve Symington - Feb 26, 2018 at 7:59PM

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The next-gen security specialist just beat expectations and raised its guidance. Again.

Palo Alto Networks (PANW 2.90%) announced fiscal second-quarter 2018 results on Monday after the market closed, highlighting the addition of thousands of new customers as its next-generation cybersecurity platform continues to take market share. Palo Alto Networks also increased its full fiscal-year guidance for the second time in as many quarters.

With shares up around 6% in after-hours trading as of this writing, let's take a deeper look at what Palo Alto Networks accomplished over the past few months, as well as what investors should expect in the quarters ahead.

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Palo Alto Networks results: The raw numbers

Metric

Fiscal Q2 2018*

Fiscal Q2 2017

Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

$542.4 million

$422.6 million

28.3%

GAAP net income (loss)

($34.9 million)

($60.6 million)

N/A

GAAP earnings (loss) per share

($0.38)

($0.67)

N/A

Data source: Palo Alto Networks. *For the quarter ended Jan. 31, 2018. 

What happened with Palo Alto Networks this quarter?

  • Palo Alto Networks' GAAP earnings include a one-time benefit from recent U.S. tax reform of $6.2 million, or $0.07 per share.
  • On an adjusted (non-GAAP) basis -- which excludes both that item and stock-based compensation -- net income was $91.5 million, or $0.97 per share, up from $59.6 million, or $0.63 per share in the same year-ago period.
  • By comparison, Palo Alto Networks' most recent guidance called for lower revenue of $518 million to $528 million, and adjusted earnings per share of $0.78 to $0.80.
  • Product revenue increased 19.8% to $202.2 million, above guidance for 10% to 11% growth, and subscription and support revenue grew 34% to $340.2 million.
  • Billings increased 20.1% to $674.6 million, above guidance for 14% to 17% growth, while deferred revenue grew 33% to $2.0 billion.
  • The company added nearly 3,000 new customers -- accelerating from a net of just over 2,500 last quarter -- bringing its total to roughly 48,000.
  • Cash flow from operations totaled $243.7 million, and free cash flow came in at $218.1 million.
  • Palo Alto launched expanded capabilities focused on preventing cyberattacks against customers operating hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
  • The company also launched the Palo Alto Networks Logging Service in Europe, mirroring last year's Logging Service launch in the U.S.

What management had to say

Palo Alto Networks CEO Mark McLaughlin stated:

We delivered a strong fiscal second quarter with [...] robust new customer acquisition and expansion in existing accounts. Digital transformation requires security transformation built upon increasing automation, leverage, and consistency, the hallmarks of our Next-Generation Security Platform. We continue to harness the power of innovation to introduce new technology and disrupt traditional consumption models as we help customers solve their most complex security challenges and embrace the benefits of the digital age.

Looking forward

For the fiscal third quarter of 2018, Palo Alto Networks expects revenue in the range of $538 million to $548 million -- or growth of 25% to 27% -- assuming an increase in product revenue of between 18% and 19%. Billings next quarter should increase between 22% and 25%, or to a range of $665 million to $680 million. And on the bottom line, that should translate to adjusted earnings per share of $0.94 to $0.96.

For the full fiscal year 2018, Palo Alto Networks now expects revenue of $2.19 billion to $2.22 billion, up from $2.145 billion to $2.185 billion previously, or growth of 24% to 26% over fiscal 2017. This range assumes product revenue of $810 million to $820 million, up from $755 million to $770 million previously.

In addition, full-year billings are now expected to grow between 18% and 21%, up from its prior outlook for between 16% and 18%. And full-year earnings per share are expected to arrive in the range of $3.84 to $3.91, up from previous guidance for $3.35 to $3.41.

In the end, there was nothing not to love about Palo Alto's latest beat and raise. The company's next-gen security platform appears to be not just sustaining its enviable momentum, but rather accelerating its market-share gains as customers demand a cybersecurity solution that can effectively handle the most sophisticated threats. As such, it should come as no surprise to see Palo Alto Networks shares touching a fresh 52-week high in response.

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