I prowl through a lot of press releases trying to find the news behind stocks with large one-day percentage changes in their prices. Today I read one that made me laugh and, once again, realize how much trust we place in the people who run publicly owned companies.
Blue Coat Systems'
The company's outlook seems promising. A full 70% of the Dow Jones Industrial Average companies rely on the company's "proxy appliances" to control how their employees use the Internet. IDC, a market research firm, recently recognized the company's 33% market share (triple that of the next-largest competitor) in secure content management -- a market expected to grow to more than $1.6 billion in 2007.
Blue Coat, with an enterprise value of around $250 million, was expected to grow earnings per share from $0.27 in fiscal 2004 (which ended last April) to $0.48 this year to $0.67 in 2006. The forward P/E, for those who are curious, is around 30. This is tough to put into perspective, given the lack of pure-play competitors. Also notable is that the company's revenue/earnings stream is contingent on overall levels of business investment (as is the case with most tech-oriented companies) and the market's perceived need for its products (relative to already installed or existing technologies).
Now the company announces that the Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting a formal, nonpublic investigation into intentional or unintentional disclosures of nonpublic information, causing increased trading and a decline in the stock price. There's also bad news. The cost of the investigation, or an adverse result, could materially hurt the company's operating results and financial condition. If there is a negative outcome, Blue Coat could experience some decline in brand equity and in turn may find itself losing a number of clients.
While it's too early to know what the results will be, Blue Coat joins Taser