UPDATE 2-Palo Alto Networks' Q4 beats Street amid slower growth

Mon Sep 10, 2012 6:56pm EDT

* Q4 revenue up 88 pct at $75.6 mln versus Street view $71.3 mln

* Q4 EPS, excluding items, $0.03 versus $0.34 loss a year ago

* Shares down 6.7 percent in after hours trading

By Nicola Leske

Sept 10 (Reuters) - Security software maker Palo Alto Networks, which went public in July, promised shareholders continued revenue growth after it beat fourth-quarter revenue and earnings estimates on rising demand for protection against network security attacks.

Palo Alto Networks, which sells firewalls to businesses that prevent data breaches and block malware and viruses, said it expects revenue in its first fiscal quarter to be in a range of $80 million to $84 million.

"Year-over-year, this represents revenue growth of 40 to 47 percent, when compared to a very strong comparison in Q1 2012, which was up 42 percent sequentially due to the timing of certain large orders," Chief Financial Officer Steffan Tomlinson said on a call with analysts on Monday.

He added that earnings per share will likely be around $0.03 in the current quarter, flat compared with the previous quarter, but the company had posted a loss of $0.34 per share in that quarter a year before.

Palo Alto Networks said revenue in the fourth quarter, which ended July 31, was up 88 percent at $75.6 million, easily beating average Wall Street estimates of $71.3 million.

Net income, excluding items, was $1.9 million, or $0.03 per diluted share versus a net loss of $5.1 million a year ago. Analysts had expected a break-even in the fourth quarter.

Despite beating fourth-quarter expectations, company shares fell 6.7 percent in after-hours trading after they closed with a gain of 1.43 percent to $71.75 on Monday. Some analysts noted that while revenue growth was strong, the company had not doubled revenue as it had in the past quarters.

FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi said that while the results beat expectations, investors may have been disappointed to see a slowdown in revenue growth in the most-recent quarter.

"They only had 88 percent revenue growth this quarter. And they were up more than 100 percent in the previous three quarters," he said.

"Maybe people were expecting 100 percent revenue growth," he added.

Founded in 2005, Palo Alto Networks debuted on July 20 with an issue price of $42. The stock has since gained 70 percent.

It competes with larger companies such as Check Point Software Technologies and Cisco.