Cybersecurity specialist Palo Alto Networks (PANW) - Get Report on Thursday said it expects growth to slow in its final fiscal quarter of the year after posting record billings in the third fiscal quarter as companies continue to fret about online security.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Palo Alto said it expects earnings per share in the current quarter of between 48 cents and 50 cents, up from 28 cents a year earlier. The company expects revenue in the quarter ending July 31 of between $386 million and $390 million, growth of between 36% and 37%.
Analysts had forecast EPS of 50 cents per share and revenue of $389 million.
"We have anticipated for some time that seasonality would evolve in the business and this is becoming increasingly evident in our Q1 and Q3 sequential results. Given the current size and scale of our business we would expect this," CFO Steffan Tomlinson said during the company's earnings call.
Palo Alto said it had $486.2 million in billings in the quarter ended April 30, its highest ever. Despite the strong numbers that were close to analyst expectations, the company forecast appears to be expecting a slowdown in growth after revenue had expanded at more than 40% in previous quarters.
However, Tomlinson said he expected the second and fourth quarters to be the company's strongest going forward -- the especially high growth of the previous fiscal fourth quarter was a key reason for the apparent slowdown in growth in the coming quarter.
Still, investors were spooked by the forecast slowdown, pushing the stock 5.3% lower in extended trading to $138.02. The stock is now off 22% this year after gaining 38% last year as investors bet on increasing interest in online security.
The company also remains unprofitable on a GAAP basis, with its fiscal third-quarter loss widening to $70.2 million, or 80 cents per share, from $45.9 million, or 56 cents per share a year earlier.
Broken down by division, Palo Alto said its services wing accounted for just over half its revenue with $183.7 million, an increase of 63% over the same period a year earlier.
"This trend is very good for the business long-term as it creates revenue visibility and strong cash flow generation, as well as greater leverage over time," CEO Mark McLaughlin said during the call.
Sales of its products brought in $162.1 million in the quarter, up 33% from the same quarter a year earlier.