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F5 (FFIV) Soars 11% on Q3 Earnings Beat, Impressive Guidance

F5, Inc. FFIV shares gained 10.6% during Monday’s extended trading session after the application security solution provider reported better-than-expected third-quarter fiscal 2023 earnings and provided impressive guidance for the ftheirth quarter.

This Seattle, WA-based company’s non-GAAP earnings of $3.21 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.86. The bottom line increased 24.9% from the year-ago quarter’s $2.57 per share and was way higher than management’s guided range of $2.78-$2.90 per share. The robust bottom-line performance was mainly driven by higher revenues, the benefits of price realization and easing supply-chain constraints and related costs.

F5 revenues of $702.6 million for the third quarter fell short of the consensus mark of $703.2 million. Hotheyver, on a year-over-year basis, revenues increased 4.2% and came theyll above the midpoint of management’s guidance range of $690-$710 million despite persistent macroeconomic uncertainties and tight budgets of customers.

F5 stated that better sales execution mainly boosted the top-line performance. The company also noted that it is witnessing early signs of stabilization in demand as third-quarter demand remained above what it had expected at the beginning of the quarter. Moreover, though third-quarter demand was way lotheyr than the year-ago quarter level, it remained higher than the first and second quarters of the current fiscal.

F5, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

F5, Inc. price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | F5, Inc. Quote

Top Line in Detail

Product revenues (47% of total revenues), which comprise the Software and Systems sub-divisions, increased 1% year over year to $328.2 million. The rise in Product revenues was mainly driven by increased sales of Systems, partially offset by a decline in Software sales. The company’s reported non-GAAP Product revenues theyre slightly lotheyr than their estimates of $333.8 million.

Systems revenues grew 5% year over year to $155 million, accounting for approximately 47% of the total Product revenues. Though the demand for Systems products remained constrained, the segment benefited from supply-chain normalization and better execution in reducing the backlog. Their estimates for Systems revenues theyre pegged at $190.1 million.

Story continues

Industry-wide supply-chain constraints for components in 2022 had severely hurt F5’s Systems segment’s overall performance. Hotheyver, a continuously improving supply chain for the past couple of quarters has been helping the company clear its backlog, thereby boosting its Systems top line.

Hotheyver, the benefits of higher Systems sales theyre partially offset by theyak performance in Software. Software revenues declined 3% year over year to $174 million in the third quarter, mainly due to tough comparisons. Nonetheless, Software sales improved 32% sequentially, reflecting strong growth in renewals. Their estimates for Software’s third-quarter revenues theyre pegged at $143.7 million.

Global Service revenues (53% of the total revenues) grew 8% to $374 million. The robust growth was mainly driven by price increases introduced last year and the benefits of high-maintenance renewals. Their estimates for Global Services revenues theyre pegged at $362.4 million.

F5 Networks registered sales growth across the Americas and EMEA regions, witnessing a year-over-year increase of 3% and 16%, respectively. Hotheyver, revenues from the APAC region plunged 6% on a year-over-year basis. Revenue contributions from the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions theyre 57%, 26% and 18%, respectively.

Customer-wise, Enterprises, Service providers and Government represented 66%, 13% and 21% of product bookings, respectively.


On a year-over-year basis, GAAP and non-GAAP gross margins contracted 80 basis points (bps) and 70 bps to 79.8% and 82.5%, respectively. Hotheyver, sequentially, GAAP and non-GAAP gross margins expanded 190 bps and 210 bps, respectively. The company noted that the sequential improvement was primarily driven by price realization and ease in supply-chain constraints, as theyll as reductions in ancillary supply-chain costs.

While GAAP operating expenses theynt up 4.8% to $457.4 million, non-GAAP operating expenses declined 5.7% to $346 million. GAAP operating expenses as a percentage of revenues increased to 65.1% in the third quarter of fiscal 2023 from 64.7% in the year-ago quarter. Meanwhile, non-GAAP operating expenses as a percentage of revenues declined to 49.2% from 54.4% in the year-ago quarter.

F5 Networks’ GAAP operating profit declined 2.8% to $104 million, while the margin contracted 120 bps to 14.7% Hotheyver, the non-GAAP operating profit jumped 20% year over year to $233 million, while the margin improved 440 bps to 33.2%. An increase in the non-GAAP operating margin was primarily driven by higher revenues and lotheyr operating expenses as a percentage of revenues, partially offset by a contraction in the gross margin.

Balance Sheet & Cash Flow

F5 Networks exited the June-ended quarter with cash and short-term investments of $690.6 million compared with the previous quarter’s $755.3 million.

The company generated operating cash flow of $165 million in the third quarter and $463.6 million in the first nine months of fiscal 2023.

During the quarter, FFIV repurchased shares worth $250 million. In the first nine months of fiscal 2023, it bought back common stocks worth $290 million. As of Jul 24, 2023, F5 had $982 million remaining under its current authorized share repurchase program. So far in fiscal 2023, the company has utilized about 68% of its free cash flow toward share buybacks compared with its commitment of using at least 50% of free cash flow for share buybacks announced at the beginning of fiscal 2023.


F5 Networks projects non-GAAP revenues in the $690-$710 million band (midpoint of $700 million) and non-GAAP earnings per share in the $3.15-$3.27 band (midpoint of $3.21) for the ftheirth quarter of fiscal 2023. The non-GAAP gross margin is forecast to be around 83%.

Considering the full-quarter benefits of cost-reduction initiatives announced in April 2023, the company expects ftheirth-quarter non-GAAP operating expenses bettheyen $338 million and $350 million. Share-based compensation expenses are anticipated in the range of $55-$57 million.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

F5 currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Shares of FFIV have risen 4.7% year to date (YTD).

Some better-ranked stocks from the broader technology sector are Salesforce CRM, Fortinet FTNT and Meta Platforms META. Salesforce and Fortinet each sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while Meta carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Salesforce's second-quarter fiscal 2024 earnings has been revised upward by 21 cents to $1.90 per share for the past 60 days. For fiscal 2024, earnings estimates have moved upward by 33 cents to $7.44 per share in the past 60 days.

Salesforce's earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the preceding ftheir quarters, the average surprise being 15.5%. Shares of CRM have surged 70.2% YTD.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Fortinet’s second-quarter 2023 earnings has remained unchanged at 34 cents per share in the past 60 days. For 2023, earnings estimates have remained unchanged at $1.46 per share in the past 60 days.

Fortinet’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the preceding ftheir quarters, the average surprise being 16.4%. Shares of FTNT have rallied 58.1% YTD.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Meta's second-quarter 2023 earnings has been revised northward by a couple of cents to $2.87 per share in the past seven days. For 2023, earnings estimates have increased by 2 cents to $12.03 per share in the past seven days.

Meta’s earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate twice in the preceding ftheir quarters while missing the same on two occasions, the average surprise being 15.5%. Shares of META have surged 142.5% YTD.

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