Symantec will sell its Veritas information management business for $8 billion in cash with plans to funnel proceeds back into its main line of work, cybersecurity, and to buy back shares.
The Mountain View, California, said Tuesday that the private equity investment firm The Carlyle Group and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, will acquire the business in a deal expected to close Jan 1.
Symantec Corp. anticipates receiving about $6.3 billion in net proceeds. It said the sale will give it a financial foundation to expand its security business and return capital to shareholders.
The company also announced Tuesday that its board approved a $1.5 billion increase in its share buyback program, and it has decided to maintain its quarterly cash dividend at 15 cents per share.
Companies often say share repurchases help shareholders, because theoretically they cut down on the total number of shares and thus boost earnings per share. But critics say that repurchases don’t usually lower the number of shares outstanding because companies can issue more shares, and buybacks also divert money that might be spent on new infrastructure or hiring.
An analysts’ view on Symantec’s transition:
After building one of the most extensive security portfolios in the industry, Symantec is in the process of refining its security offerings to focus on a smaller number of fast-growing segments such as security analytics and advanced threat protection. During Symantec’s earnings announcement, TBR expects the vendor will highlight its recent accomplishments that reflect this new, narrower strategy, such as its recent integration with Box to extend Symantec’s solutions to the public cloud provider’s storage platform, and a new venture fund to invest in technologies from start-up security firms. These were unique steps that will strengthen Symantec’s competitive position against vendors such as Skyhigh Networks in the cloud storage market and FireEye in many areas of innovation. However, TBR believes Symantec’s pointed actions will lead to only a niche set of new revenue opportunities, rather than driving the comprehensive security revenue growth that Symantec needs to begin to reverse its revenue decline in the coming year.
– Jane Wright, Technology Business Research
Symantec said Tuesday its business sale provides “significant proceeds” to continue investing in the fast-growing market for security products and services.
Symantec had said last fall that it planned to separate its business into two independent companies to maximize their growth prospects.
The security software maker also said Tuesday that it recorded adjusted earnings of 40 cents per share in its fiscal first quarter on $1.5 billion in revenue.
Both figures missed Wall Street expectations, where analysts expected, on average, earnings of 43 cents per share on $1.52 billion in revenue, according to Zacks Investment Research.
The misses were not unexpected.
“TBR expects Symantec will report a year-to-year revenue decline of approximately 12% during its 1Q16 earnings announcement for the quarter ended June 2105,” wrote analyst Jane Wright of Technology Business Research in an earnings preview.
“The results will come as a disappointment following the vendor’s 6.6% year-to-year decline in the prior quarter. …
“Symantec’s financial performance will reflect the challenges it continues to face in adapting to changing market demands as customers increasingly invest in advanced threat detection and response technologies, forensics tools and security services.”
Wright also predicted that Veritas would be a bright spot in the earnings update.
“Veritas, Symantec’s information management business unit, will provide the only bright spot in the vendor’s earnings announcement, reporting growth of nearly 3%, according to TBR’s forecast,” Wright said.
“The gain will come from new NetBackup product releases launched in the quarter as Symantec strengthened the unit in preparation for a completely separated information management company in January.”
Shares of Symantec climbed 2.5 percent, or 58 cents, to $23.49 before markets opened Tuesday. The stock had fallen about 11 percent so far this year, as of Monday’s close. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, in contrast, has climbed about 2 percent.