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(Nasdaq:RDWR) was not expected to surprise the Street in its fourth-quarter results, released today. The company had announced back in December that it feels comfortable with analyst expectations for the fourth quarter.

In reality RADware sprung a two-cent surprise for investors, reporting earnings per share of 12 cents, compared with average earnings estimates on Wall Street of ten cents. The company netted $2.08 million in the fourth quarter of 2000, 15% above Merrill Lynch estimates.

In comparison, in the corresponding quarter of 1999, the company reported $517,000 in earnings.

RADware specializes in solutions that balance excess traffic on the Internet, called Intelligent Traffic Management systems.

Revenue increased to a record $12.3 million in the fourth quarter, 145% up from the same quarter of 1999 and 10.8% over the previous quarter.

Merrill Lynch initiated coverage of the stock last week. Analyst Ilana Treston said she expected revenues of $11.8 million, a figure that RADware easily strolled past.

With the fourth quarter surprise, the company was able to beat yearly expectations. It ended 2000 with sales of $38.4 million, an annual growth factor of 171%, beating Merrill Lynch estimates by 16%.

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RADware trades on Nasdaq at a market cap of $360 million.

CFO Meir Moshe said that the figures are due to the company's increased global presence, and its fifth office in Europe.

SSB: The difficulties at F5 are not industry-related

The load-balancing market is divided to three separate subsectors. RADWare operates in appliance-based systems, the largest segment of the three. Its main competitor is

F5 Networks

(Nasdaq:FFIV). The other two sectors are switch-based systems, the realm of Europoint (bought by Cisco) and software-based systems.

F5 was forced to release a fourth-quarter earnings warning. But Solomon Smith Barney reported that its problems are not industry-related, a view that RADware's results validate.

The company will be holding a conference call today to provide guidance for 2001.