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HP Could Continue Its Buying Spree

PALO ALTO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- The ink is barely dry on Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ - Get Report) $1.5 billion deal to acquire ArcSight (ARST), and there is already speculation about another HP security acquisition.

" HP could certainly be an acquirer -- with ArcSight they have threat visibility and understanding, but they still need more devices with firewalls," Erik Suppiger, senior research analyst at Signal Hill Capital told TheStreet. "Logical additions would be Fortinet (FTNT - Get Report) or Blue Coat Systems (BCSI) -- they could both be interesting prospects for HP."


Like ArcSight, Fortinet is one of TheStreet's Breakout Stocks, selling Unified Threat Management (UTM) devices which combine firewall, antivirus, VPN and intrusion prevention systems. Based in Sunnyvale, Calif., Fortinet lists NTT (NTT), Nissan, Chungwa Telecom, and the UAE Central Bank among its customers and derives nearly 60% of its revenue from its high-margin subscription business.

Although the company only went public in late 2009, ArcSight is enjoying solid momentum and its recent second-quarter revenue was up 24% compared to the same period last year. The company's shares rose 62 cents, or 2.84%, to $22.52 in extended trading Monday as investors digested HP's ArcSight move.

HP executives talked about a new holistic approach to security and compliance during a conference call to discuss the ArcSight deal on Monday. "Unified Threat Management is consistent with that because it provides a breadth of functionality," said Suppiger. "If you listen to what they say, Fortinet would make sense."

Unsurprisingly, HP did not divulge its future M&A plans on the conference call, and a Fortinet spokesman told The Street that the security specialist doesn't comment on rumors and speculation.

The two companies however, are already partners and have been working for more than two years around HP's ProCurve networking technology, a key battleground in its war with Cisco (CSCO). Other firms that could be a good fit with Fortinet's technology include IBM (IBM - Get Report), Dell (DELL - Get Report) and Oracle (ORCL - Get Report), according to Suppiger.

Security and networking specialist Blue Coat, which has also been touted as attractive M&A bait, recently told TheStreet that it is not on the block.

"I came to this company to grow it, double its revenue and stay independent," said Mike Borman, the Blue Coat CEO, during an interview earlier this month. "My job is to build this company to a billion-dollar company, and that's what we're working on."

Still, it is hardly surprising that there is so much ongoing M&A chatter, according to Stifel Nicolaus analyst Todd Weller. "Security remains a strategic area and there is a scarcity of strategic assets in the space," he wrote in a note, citing Web and network security as key areas. " Sourcefire (FIRE) and Fortinet are the two remaining fast growing network security players."

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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