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Palo Alto Networks shares drop 8% premarket as billings outlook disappoints

Published 05/20/2024, 04:41 PM
Updated 05/21/2024, 04:41 AM
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Investing.com -- Shares in Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ:PANW) tumbled more than 8% in premarket U.S. trading on Tuesday, after analysts flagged that the group's latest billings forecast disappointed elevated expectations. 

Like other cybersecurity firms, Palo Alto has been facing weakness in spending by clients concerned by an uncertain economic environment. Customers, wary of the possible risks posed by placing all of their digital security needs in the hands of one company after a recent spate of high-profile breaches, are also investing in multiple vendors.

In a post-earnings call with analysts, Chief Executive Nikesh Arora noted that Palo Alto's ongoing attempt to consolidate its users on to one centralized system -- a process dubbed "platformization" -- has enjoyed "initial traction." However, he said this strategy has driven an increase in bookings with deferred payments and impacted billings, adding that this trend is "something we expect will continue."

Palo Alto's billings outlook ranged from $3.43 billion to $3.48 billion for its fiscal fourth quarter and $10.13 billion to $10.18 billion for the financial year, roughly meeting expectations. Current-quarter earnings per share, meanwhile, are seen at $1.40 to $1.42, which brackets consensus estimates of $1.41. Revenue is projected between $2.15 billion and $2.17 billion, in line with the consensus of $2.16 billion.

"Clearly investors had been hopeful for more, as the stock price crept up since early April in anticipation of earnings," analysts at Bernstein said in a note to clients. As of Monday's close, Palo Alto's share price had risen by nearly 15% over the past one-month period.

Revenue jumped by 15% to $2.0 billion in the three months ended on April 30, surpassing both consensus forecasts of $1.97 billion and the previous year's $1.7 billion. Adjusted per-share income for the quarter came in at $1.32, compared to Wall Street predictions of $1.25.

The company's remaining performance obligations grew by 23% year-over-year to $11.3 billion, slightly above estimates of $11.28 billion. Chief Financial Officer Dipak Golechha said the returns were partly boosted by "disciplined" execution and investments in innovation.

For the full fiscal year 2024, Palo Alto said it expects to deliver revenue of $7.99 billion to $8.01 billion, up from the previous range of $7.95 billion to $8.00 billion. Analysts had called for $7.98 billion.

"While there is some logic with Palo Alto Networks’ strategy of Platformization, we can’t help but wonder whether all the extraneous talk has more to do with simply a slowdown in the business, partially related to the macro backdrop, but perhaps there’s more than this," analysts at Guggenheim said in a note. "But sifting through all the noise, results are fine."

Senad Karaahmetovic contributed to this report.

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