Is Akamai Technologies (Nasdaq: AKAM) finally beating back the competitive pressures that have taken a toll on margins in recent quarters? We'll know more when the company reports fourth-quarter earnings after the bell today. Here's a closer look at what analysts expect:


Q4 2011 (Est.)

Q4 2010

Estimated Growth

Revenue $311.3 million $284.7 million 9.3%
Earnings per Share $0.40 $0.40 0%

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Growth first went missing about a year ago and hasn't returned since. Wall Street's estimates don't do much to suggest a turnaround is under way. Though, to be fair, things look worse for Limelight Networks (Nasdaq: LLNW), which is due to report a 17% decline in Q4 revenue. Of Akamai's competitors, only Level 3 (Nasdaq: LVLT) is experiencing outrageous growth, on pace to improve fourth-quarter sales by 77%.

3 more things to watch
Of course, we're about more than just numbers here at The Motley Fool. As business-focused investors, we're also interested in strategy and company initiatives. Here are three things I'm particularly hoping to hear more about:

  • Content with Cotendo. Akamai has a history of acquiring troublesome rivals, and did so again when it spent $286 million to acquire Cotendo in December. The deal removes a competitor that had not only captured Google's interest as a partner, but that was also winning deals in the all-important market for streaming video. What will Akamai do with Cotendo's assets? Is the Google partnership still alive and well?
  • Plus-sized profit for adding value? We've known for a while that value-added services such as accelerating delivery of corporate data and ads are accounting for an ever-larger slice of revenue. That's good. But it would help more to know how these same offerings impact operating profit. Is it also 50%? More?
  • Whither media. While value-added services are what keep Akamai ahead of competitors when it comes to margins, streaming media is a fast-growing and hotly contested business. Is the company keeping up? How big a factor is discounting in retaining major clients such as Apple?

Those are my questions. Now it's your turn to weigh in. What do you expect to hear from Akamai this afternoon? How you are you investing in cloud computing? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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