UPDATED 20:51 EST / NOVEMBER 16 2020


Palo Alto Networks shares hit record high on strong earnings

Shares in Palo Alto Networks Inc. hit a record high today after the company beat first-quarter earnings estimates.

For the quarter ended Oct. 31, Palo Alto Networks reported revenue rose 23%, to $946 million, from a year ago. Adjusted earnings excluding share-based compensation expenses and other items came in at $1.62 a share versus $1.05 a share a year ago. Analysts had been predicting an adjusted profit of $1.33 a share on $921.7 million in revenue.

According to Yahoo Finance, this is the fourth straight quarter that Palo Alto Networks has surpassed consensus earnings-per-share estimates.

The only negative was a net loss of $92.2 million or 97 cents per share, up from a loss of $59.6 million or 62 cents per share in the first quarter of last year. But investors didn’t care.

“We delivered another consecutive strong quarter of solid results, with first-quarter billings of 21% year-over-year growth; both our firewall transformation and our Next-Generation Security services continue to make great progress, giving us confidence to raise previously issued guidance for the year,” Nikesh Arora, chairman and chief executive officer of Palo Alto Networks, said in a statement.

The strong figures in the quarter were reflected in the guidance for the company’s fiscal second quarter. Palo Alto Networks is predicting revenue of $975 million to $990 million and billings of $1.17 billion to $1.19 billion, with non-GAAP net income of $1.42 to $1.44 in the quarter. Analysts had been predicting a profit of $1.37 a share on revenue of $972.9 million.

For the company’s fiscal year 2021, Palo Alto Networks raised revenue guidance to between $4.09 billion and $4.14 billion and billings of $5.08 billion to $5.13 billion. Adjusted profit per share is forecast in the range of $5.70 to $5.80.

Palo Alto Networks noted that the guidance includes the expected impact from the proposed acquisition of Expanse Inc. The deal to acquired Expanse was announced Nov. 11 and includes $670 million in cash and stock plus an additional $130 million in replacement equity awards.

In the company’s earnings call, Arora noted that the growth had been driven by COVID-19 and the switch to cloud computing.

“Over the last seven months, I’ve been cautious on the pandemic and our teams have continued to deliver and surprise me to the upside,” Arora said. “I’m delighted to report this is no longer a coincidence. Our customers are investing, our teams are executing, and our strategy of innovating in our firewall business and focusing on the next generation of products around cloud and AI in the industry is working. For many of our customers, COVID accelerated the digital transformation timelines and we continue to see conversion of remote access trials and very strong pipeline generation.”

Shares in Palo Alto Networks closed regular trading today up nearly 8%, to $278.50, their highest-ever price on a day the New York Stock Exchange Composite was up a more moderate 1.6%.

Photo: Palo Alto Networks

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