Check Point Software focused on revenue growth in 2022

JERUSALEM, April 27 (Reuters) - Check Point Software Technologies Ltd (CHKP.O) said it was cautiously optimistic it remained on track for an improvement in revenue and profit in 2022 after its cloud protection products and consolidated cybersecurity platforms led to stronger-than-expected first-quarter results.

Israel-based Check Point said it was focused mainly on revenue growth and was in the midst of a hiring spree to raise its sales workforce by 25% to drive sales in 2023.

It left its 2022 estimates unchanged, projecting revenue to reach $2.2 to $2.375 billion, up from $2.17 billion in 2021, and earnings per share excluding one-offs of $6.90 to $7.50, versus $7.02 in last year. Analysts expect revenue of $2.29 billion.

In a conference call with analysts, Chief Executive Gil Shwed said he was optimistic, but not overly optimistic, given various supply chain and other challenges.

"We had a very strong beginning of the year and I hope that the rest of the year will show even more of these results flowing from our business pipeline for business bookings to the revenues and the EPS," he said.

Check Point said on Wednesday said it earned $1.57 per diluted share excluding one-off items in the January-March period, up from $1.54 a year earlier. Revenue grew 7% to $543 million, with growth coming in all regions. The company in 2021 had topped $2 billion for a second straight year.

It was forecast to earn $1.54 a share on revenue of $534 million, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.

For the second quarter, it estimated revenue of $545 million to $575 million, and EPS ex-one-offs of $1.55 to $1.65. Analysts foresee revenue of $556 million and EPS ex-items of $1.65.

Shwed noted that a surge in global cyberattacks had pushed companies to turn to more all-in-one cybersecurity products that secure networks, the cloud and remote users.

With a focus on boosting its workforce to reach double-digit sales growth, operating expenses grew 15%. Chief Financial Officer Tal Payne said the higher costs have started to pay off with its security subscriptions up more than 10% in the quarter over last year.

The company still has some $4 billion in cash that Payne said would continue to invest in its business organically and through acquisitions.

Deferred revenue rose 14% in the quarter to $1.67 billion.

Check Point, whose Nasdaq shares are up 16% so far in 2022, said it bought back 2.5 million shares in the quarter, worth $325 million, as part of its share repurchase programme.

Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Louise Heavens and Jonathan Oatis

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