Why FireEye Can Have a Successful 2018

Going into FireEye's (NASDAQ: FEYE) fourth-quarter results, there were indications of a potential market share loss -- the cybersecurity specialist's growth had been muted in recent quarters despite the launch of a new security platform. But the company put all such fears to rest with an impressive showing in its latest quarterly report.

FireEye trumped expectations, turning in a surprise adjusted net profit that boosted investors' confidence. And the company's bright outlook for the rest of the year gave assurances that its growth is about to pick up the pace. More specifically, FireEye expects an increase of over 9% in revenue this year at the midpoint of its guidance, above the 5% top-line growth it clocked in 2017.

So, will FireEye finally claim a greater share of the cybersecurity market in 2018? Let's find out.

FireEye is having success with Helix

FireEye's all-in-one Helix cybersecurity platform packs a lot of technology into a single package, such as next-generation firewalls and anti-virus products along with intelligence-enabled threat detection services. This means that customers won't have to rely on more than one vendor for their cybersecurity needs, getting all their services at a central hub.

This simplifies the cybersecurity deployment in an organization and reduces costs because companies can select services based on their size, and scale up when needed. Helix adoption is now picking up after a lull late last year. During the fourth quarter, FireEye signed 116 customers for the Helix platform, compared to just 57 during the third quarter.

This platform is already driving a 20% jump in the value of deals struck by the company as evident from last quarter's dealmaking activity. The number of transactions worth $1 million or more was 52 during the fourth quarter, up significantly from 34 such transactions in the prior-year period. And FireEye claims that all but four of these deals involved multiple product purchases by customers, meaning that FireEye's product portfolio is helping attract more customers.

FireEye's deal momentum can pick up pace

Looking ahead, FireEye's customer acquisition can get even better thanks to its recent moves. Last month, FireEye announced that it has acquired X15 Software for $20 million to get access to the latter's big-data platform. X15's expertise in big-data management, FireEye said, will allow it to tackle "the complex problem of collecting, querying, and analyzing large volumes of machine-generated data in real-time."

X15 will allow FireEye customers to manage security across diverse cloud computing environments such as the public, the private, and the hybrid cloud. This means that customers using cloud services from the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Oracle, among others -- as well as having on-premise cloud infrastructure -- can control cybersecurity functions from just one hub.

FireEye is going to integrate these features into the Helix platform, which should boost customer adoption because it will now be able to target the fast-growing cloud security market. MarketsandMarkets estimates that cloud security revenue is going to triple over the next five years to $12.7 billion, and FireEye is equipping itself to take a slice of the pie.

The subscription business is boosting margins

FireEye's subscription business is getting bigger and better with each passing quarter, helping its margin profile. The subscription and services business supplied almost 84% of its total revenue in fiscal 2017, up from 78.7% during 2016. Subscription customers provide a recurring source of revenue, making this a higher-margin business because of low customer acquisition costs and the opportunity to increase cross-selling of other products.

As a result, FireEye's gross profit margin increased to 64.2% during fiscal 2017 as compared to 61.9% in the prior-year period. And the subscription business should get better thanks to the improvements FireEye plans to bring to its services as mentioned earlier.

The continued growth of the subscription business will help to push the company toward profitability -- exactly as its guidance indicates. FireEye expects its 2018 non-GAAP net income to range between break-even and $0.04 per share, a significant improvement from last year's loss per share of $0.16.

FireEye looks ready to report impressive growth in its revenue and bottom line this year, and it won't be surprising if the uptick in its financial performance leads to an upside on the stock market.

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