* Shares down 12.5 pct to new year low on outlook
* Q3 non-GAAP EPS $0.79 vs $0.78 forecast
* Q3 revenue up 8 pct to $332.4 mln
By Tova Cohen
TEL AVIV, Oct 17 Shares in computer security
provider Check Point Software Technologies plunged on
Wednesday after it issued a wider than usual range for
fourth-quarter results forecasts, citing economic uncertainty.
The conservative outlook sent Check Point's shares down 12.5
percent to a new year-low of $41.49, despite higher than
expected third quarter earnings.
"We still expect a very strong quarter," Chairman and Chief
Executive Gil Shwed told a news conference. "We were relatively
conservative, due to uncertainty in Europe."
Israel-based Check Point forecast revenue of between $355
million and $387 million in the fourth quarter and earnings per
share (EPS) before one-off items of 84-91 cents. Analysts have
forecast profits of 90 cents per share on $382 million revenues.
According to Reuters' calculations, that would bring its
full-year revenue outlook to $1.329-$1.361 billion and EPS to
$3.13-$3.20, from previous forecasts of $1.345-$1.395 billion in
revenue and EPS of $3.10-$3.20.
On Tuesday, rival network security products maker Fortinet
Inc cut its full-year forecast, hurt by weak demand in
southern Europe and slow growth in China, sending its shares
down 18 percent.
Check Point's growth in the third quarter was boosted by
sales of security appliances that combine hardware and software
as well its software "blades" - modular software building blocks
that prevent network intrusion and are bought on an annual
"Geographically, North America continued to deliver great
results with double digit growth in product and service
revenues," Shwed said.
FBN Securities cut its price target for Check Point to $60
from $70 but retained an "outperform" rating.
"The big negative in this report is the negative growth in
billings as the company pointed to weakening trends in Europe,"
analyst Shebly Seyrafi said. "However, there are questions about
increased competition, particularly from Palo Alto Networks
, on Check Point's growth."
Palo Alto Networks, which sells firewalls to businesses that
prevent data breaches and block malware and viruses, went public
Check Point posted third quarter EPS excluding one-off items
of 79 cents, compared with 72 cents a year earlier. Revenue rose
8 percent to $332.4 million.
It had been expected to earn 78 cents a share on revenue of
$332.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.