Check Point to focus on home network cybersecurity in new normal

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Check Point Software Technologies will focus on security services for remote working this year, the Israel-based company said on Wednesday after reporting better than expected quarterly profit and 2020 revenue that topped $2 billion

FILE PHOTO: The logo of network security provider Check Point Software Technologies Ltd is seen at their headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Chief Executive Gil Shwed said that cloud, network and remote-access security product sales grew sharply last year as a hybrid home-office work environment became the new normal as the COVID-19 pandemic developed -- a situation he says is likely to remain even after the coronavirus crisis.

The company, he said, would work to merge its technologies into a single product suite able to secure home and work computers as well as mobile phone networks.

“Most companies are not properly secure (and) we will start seeing the consequences of it,” Shwed said, adding that companies are still spending on cyber security despite a tough 2020.

Check Point reported a higher than expected 7% jump in fourth-quarter earnings to $2.17 per diluted share excluding one-off items, with revenue up 4% at $564 million.

It was forecast to earn $2.11 a share on revenue of $555.4 million, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.

The company “navigated effectively through the pandemic while resourcefully finding ways to modestly grow revenue and margins,” said Oppenheimer analyst Shaul Eyal.

Check Point projected 2021 revenue of $2.08 billion to $2.18 billion and adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $6.45-$6.85, compared with 2020 revenue of $2.07 billion and EPS excluding one-offs at $6.78.

The company’s Nasdaq shares fell by 7% in early trade.

Analysts had forecast 2020 revenue of $2.12 billion and adjusted EPS of $6.92.

CEO Shwed told reporters the company was starting with a “deficit” of more than 50 cents a share because of factors such as the shekel’s strength against the dollar and falling U.S. interest rates that lower the return on its cash balance.

The company saved about 25 cents per share in 2020 through a steep drop in expenses, largely down to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Check Point said it bought back 2.7 million shares worth $323 million in the fourth quarter as part of its share repurchase programme.

For the first quarter, it expects revenue of between $485 million and $515 million, with adjusted EPS of $1.45-$1.55. Analysts have forecast EPS of $1.51 on revenue of $501.7 million.

Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by David Goodman