| TEL AVIV
TEL AVIV Network security provider Check Point Software Technologies (CHKP.O) plans to sharpen its focus on threat-prevention and mobile security, it said on Monday after posting better than expected first-quarter profit.
Chief Executive Gil Shwed spoke of increased investment in new technologies and staff to cement the company's position of strength in a vibrant Israeli tech sector that accounts for about 12.5 percent of economic output and more than 50 percent of industrial exports.
A leading player in the corporate fight against cyber crime and computer viruses, Check Point has acquired two Israeli companies since the start of 2014. In February it bought cyber security start-up Hyperwise and this month acquired Lacoon Mobile Security to boost its offering for smartphones.
"We increased our development, sales and marketing teams to capitalize on the expanding security market opportunity," Shwed said. "We expect these investments to continue through the coming quarters."
In the first quarter the company added 200-plus employees, more than in the whole of 2014, bringing its workforce to 3,500.
"We hope to grow at the same rate this quarter," Shwed told a news conference.
The company earned 95 cents a share excluding one-off items in the first quarter, against 84 cents a year earlier. Revenue grew by 9 percent to $373 million.
That compared with a forecast of 91 cents a share on revenue of $370 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"It appears the company is hitting its stride as product innovation on the (software subscription) front coupled with a more acquisitive strategy are laying the groundwork for another strong year in 2015," said Daniel Ives, managing director at FBR Capital Markets.
"Cyber security tailwinds are massive and Check Point is at the right place at the right time."
CEO Shwed forecast the company would earn 90-99 cents a share in the second quarter on revenue of between $380 million and $400 million. Analysts on average forecast adjusted earnings per share of 94 cents on revenue of $392.4 billion.
At the end of March Check Point had cash of $3.7 billion and Shwed said it was interested in acquiring more technologies in threat prevention and mobile security.
Check Point shares rose 5 percent to $85.84 in early Nasdaq trade and have gained 9 percent so far this year after a 22 percent rise in 2014.
Shwed maintained his full-year adjusted profit forecast of $3.90 to $4.02 a share on revenue of $1.6 billion to $1.65 billion.
(This version of the story adds the second-quarter outlook, CEO quotes and background)
(Additional reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by David Goodman)