There could be a for sale sign planted in the ground at tech pioneer Akamai (AKAM) .
"We're a public company and our board, which is very professional and diligent, is always going to do the right thing for shareholders," Akamai CEO Tom Leighton told TheStreet when asked if the company he co-founded in 1998 was for sale. While Leighton left the door open on a possible sale, he added that Akamai has strong prospects as a stand-alone company as well.
"I think we believe Akamai has a very bright future as a stand-alone company. We are growing revenue at a good clip, we are doing great innovation and bringing new products to market so I think we have a very bright future just on our own." Leighton also left the door open to doing M&A seeing as the company is sitting on about $1.3 billion in cash.
Akamai has long been rumored to be a prime takeover candidate by big-tech names such as Cisco (CSCO) and Microsoft (MSFT) . Credit Suisse tech analyst Brad Zelnick recently speculated the most ideal fit for Akamai would be IBM (IBM) .
With well-known agitator Elliott Management still invested in Akamai (about a 4% stake, according to Bloomberg data), there is likely a sense of urgency for Akamai's executive team to drive further value beyond its latest actions. The company is fresh off lifting its stock buyback plan by $417 million to $750 million amid pressure from Elliott.
Akamai shares have gained about 35% over the past year, out-performing the Nasdaq Composite's
The company is targeting a 30% operating profit margin by 2020, up from 24% in 2017, through what Leighton explains is a more efficient delivery of its traffic. First quarter results should inspire some confidence: revenue increased 11% from the prior year while adjusted profits rose 22%.
"I think it has been a very constructive relationship [with Elliott], I think there is a lot of common ground on what we want to see for the company."
Microsoft is a holding in Action Alerts PLUS.