Maybe it wasn't such a great idea for the founders of networking company F5 Networks
I'm not going to claim expert knowledge of networking or networking stocks, but as an investor writing for other investors, it looks like F5's summary execution in the markets was overdone.
Second-quarter results were actually slightly above expectations, even though sales in Japan were a bit disappointing. Total revenue rose 65% from last year (8% sequentially) and operating margins expanded on both an annual and a sequential basis. While year-over-year income comparisons are a little flummoxed because the company paid virtually no taxes last year, adjusting for taxes leads to a near-tripling of net income ($14 million vs. $4.9 million).
With strong product sales and a good book-to-bill ratio, it would seem like the culprit in yesterday's drop was the company's guidance for the next quarter. Management is now predicting revenue of $76 to $78 million -- so far, so good, since the prior estimate was just under $76 million. On the EPS line, though, the company expects a $0.08 per share hit from expensing employee stock incentives. Even though the adjusted earnings guidance of $0.37 to $0.38 matches prior expectations, this newly adjusted guidance has folks in a tizzy.
Honestly, it's pretty stupid if stock award expensing caused this stock's slide. Who didn't realize that companies would have to expense stocks sooner or later, and that doing so would hurt reported results? Frankly, I'd be inclined to give management a pat on the back for doing this ahead of time, providing shareholders a more honest view of the state of the business.
Another possible lesson here: Beware momentum stocks. The stock traded up about 10% ahead of earnings; perhaps some of that was due to hot-money investors hoping that F5 would blow away numbers again and lift guidance. They may now be selling in a huff and moving on to the next go-go idea.
F5 certainly has challenges -- companies like Cisco
Nevertheless, I'm always looking for good companies that sell off for stupid reasons. Selling off because the company didn't beat estimates as grandly as it has before, or has decided to expense stock awards early, qualifies as stupid in my book. If you've wanted to pick up some F5 shares at lower prices, this might be your opportunity.
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).