UPDATE 1-Check Point Q1 profit beats forecasts, outlook disappoints

Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:51am EDT

* Q1 adjusted EPS $0.84 vs $0.83 forecast

* Sees Q2 adjusted EPS $0.82-$0.90, revenue $340 mln-$375 mln

* Analysts see Q2 EPS $0.88, revenue $361.1 mln (Adds Q2 outlook, CEO quotes, analyst comments)

By Tova Cohen

TEL AVIV, April 29 (Reuters) - Network security provider Check Point Software Technologies met first-quarter profit forecasts helped by strong demand for its threat-prevention software subscriptions and high-end products that protect data centres.

Israel-based Check Point earned 84 cents a share excluding one-time items, up from 79 cents a year earlier. Revenue grew 6 percent to $342 million, the company said on Tuesday.

Check Point, a leader in the corporate fight against cyber crime and computer viruses, was forecast to have earned 83 cents a share on revenue of $341.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"The company delivered respectable, slightly better March results relative to the weaker numbers we have seen out of the likes of tech stalwarts such as IBM and SAP," FBR analyst Daniel Ives said.

"Check Point continues to be a very stable ship in choppy waters and continues to benefit from strong security spending around the globe."

Chief Executive Gil Shwed provided a wider than usual forecast for the second quarter, citing uncertainty in Asia and parts of Europe but maintained a full-year forecast he provided earlier this year.

The quarterly forecast sent Check Point's shares down 5.7 percent to $62.12 in early Nasdaq trade.

Shwed predicted second-quarter revenue of $340 million to $375 million and earnings per share excluding one-time items of 82-90 cents. Analysts on average estimated revenue of $361.1 million and EPS of 88 cents.

"It is difficult to forecast. We need to take into account a weak start to the year in parts of Europe and Asia," Shwed said. "On the other hand, our sales people are very optimistic and there's a good pipeline of deals."

A conflict between Russia and the Ukraine and a sharp drop in the value of the rouble dampened demand as Russian clients put off purchases, Shwed said.

But he noted that in North America, which accounts for 48 percent of Check Point's sales, demand was very strong.

"We believe management continues to under promise and over deliver - a trend we expect to continue during the rest of 2014," Ives said. "Some investors might have been hoping for a stronger June guide - although we believe this remains a conservative forecast with a low bar that is beatable."

Check Point, which has over $3.6 billion in cash, is seeking to use some of its funds for mergers and acquisitions.

"We have intensified our M&A work," Shwed said. "We have seen some interesting things recently."

A strong shekel hurt the company's bottom line by 1 cent per share in the first quarter, as local expenses increased in dollar terms. (Reporting by Tova Cohen; editing by Jason Neely)

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