FireEye Inc Downgraded After Reduced Outlook

FireEye shares plunged last week after the company warned that the second half of the year will likely be weaker than expected. After the company’s disappointing guidance and announcement about job cuts, analysts slashed their price targets for its stock. The cyber-security firm earned another cut and also a downgrade today.

Imperial Capital downgrades FireEye

Imperial Capital analyst Michael Kim said in a report dated August 9 that he has downgraded FireEye from Outperform to In-Line and cut his price target from $25 to $15 per share. The company’s second quarter revenue came in lower than his expectations and also the consensus estimate, so he slashed his estimates for the second half of this year and also for fiscal 2017 on the company’s weaker outlook for billings.

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FireEye’s second quarter billings grew 10% year over year, coming in weaker than expected, and the company’s management guided for billings in the second half of the year to be flat with last year. Kim noted that FireEye-as-a-service decelerated in the second quarter, and management attributed that deceleration to the lack of some features, especially the ability to utilize alerts from other security products.

However, Kim expects adoption of the service to improve as the company has expanded its threat coverage. However, he adds that visibility is still limited because of the flat sequential billings growth for product subscriptions in the second quarter.

FireEye to remain a leader

Despite the challenges, downgrade and price target cut, Kim still expects FireEye to remain a leader in advanced detection of cyber-threats. He pointed out that the company is also changing its sales leadership, both worldwide and in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The cyber-security company is also trimming its workforce by about 10%, and the analyst warns that this might disrupt sales productivity and also operational execution. This is particularly interesting because of a recent survey which indicated a severe lack of talent in the area of cyber-security.

He also reminded investors about FireEye management’s commentary on the professional services segment, which also saw a significant slowdown. The company’s layoffs are due to improvements in the threat environment, which means the duration and size of its recent service engagements and the amount of the sales associated with those engagements has fallen. With the recent lack of major data breaches, the analyst doesn’t expect a major rebound in services revenues, although he points out that the company’s announced restructuring plans might cut up to $80 million off its annualized operating costs.

Kim believes investors could remain on the sidelines with FireEye for now until the company’s financial execution becomes more consistently solid. He also expects investors to wait until FireEye-as-a-service shows renewed growth, as do the company’s incident response services.

Shares of FireEye slipped by as much as 0.69% to $14.32 during regular trading hours on Tuesday.