from the February 2009 issue

Check Point earnings beat analysts' estimates

Internet and network security company Check Point Software Technologies Ltd (CHKP. reported higher fourth-quarter profit before one-off items, beating analysts' estimates and sending its shares higher. The Israel-based company said first-quarter results should be in line with analysts' expectations but said it could not provide a full-year outlook due to economic uncertainty.

"All guidance is very risky now," Chairman and Chief Executive Gil Shwed told a news conference. "The global economy makes full-year guidance difficult."

Forecasts were also made difficult by uncertainty over the precise timing of its acquisition of Nokia's (NOK1V.HE: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) security appliance business, expected in March.

"While it's hard to predict the effect of the economy on our market, we will continue to invest and innovate," Shwed said.

Following the Nokia deal Check Point is continuing to look for acquisitions, Shwed said, adding that the global financial crisis had created more opportunities.

The company has cash of $1.44 billion.

Fourth-quarter net profit totalled $86.5 million, or 41 cents a diluted share, compared with $87.9 million, or 39 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, earnings per share rose to 50 cents from 46 cents a year earlier.

Revenue in the quarter increased to $217.6 million from $206.7 million a year earlier.

Analysts on average expected EPS of 47 cents excluding items on revenue of $216.36 million.

"Overall, fourth-quarter results were respectable in a challenging environment," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Garrett Bekker said.

Shwed said Check Point experienced good performance from all regions, including the United States, which was surprisingly strong despite the weak economy.

"The investments we have made in emerging markets began to pay off as we realised over 20 percent growth in Asia and Eastern Europe and over 40 percent growth in Latin America and the Middle East," Shwed said.

He estimated the company would earn 40 to 46 cents a share, excluding one-off items, in the first quarter on revenue of $190 million to $208 million.

The first quarter is typically weaker than the fourth.

Analysts estimate Check Point will earn 43 cents a share on revenue of $200.8 million in this quarter, according to Reuters Estimates.

Shwed said Check Point had managed to maintain a strong financial position in part because the security market was less sensitive to recession than other technology sectors.Tessera focuses on higher quality camera phones

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report February 2009

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