Is It Time For BEA Systems To Find A Buyer?

Aug.16.07 | About: BEA Systems (BEAS)

BEA Systems (BEAS) Thursday will report results for its fiscal second quarter ended July; several analysts Wednesday predicted that results will likely be in line with the company’s previous guidance of $353 million to $367 million in revenue and $113 million to $128 million in new license revenue (due to its ongoing stock options woes, it has not been reporting EPS).

Jason Maynard, software analyst at Credit Suisse, wrote Wednesday morning that it is “nice to see” BEA avoid missing their already lowered license revenue guidance - but that the company is not likely to report enough improvement to take the pressure off management.

Maynard observes that “outside of customer audits and optimized maintenance renewal tactics, the company hasn’t succeeded in any new markets beyond the application server.” He says that BEA over the last five years has provided “a feeble combination of strategic inertia and half-hearted attempts at diversifying out of that once rich, but now slow growing product category.” He points out that license revenue is lower now that it was in October 2001.

Maynard’s conclusion: “It is time for the board to curtail management’s chronic under-achieving and find a buyer in order to realize the potential of the mismanaged asset.”

In another note Wednesday morning, W.R. Hambrecht’s Robert Stimson wrote that he expects results to be in line with expectations for the quarter. Stimson also addresses the possibility of a sale, noting that “software companies with revenues in excess of $1.5 billion are not easy to find.” He thinks the company would have to sell at $14-$15 a share to be non-dilutive to an acquirer; for a higher price to work, the buyer would have to cut “substantial” costs. He has a price target of $14.50 on the stock.

BEA is an oft-rumored takeover target, that has at one time or another been linked to almost every large tech company you can think of: Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), and a variety of others. However, the stock has come down lately as the LBO market has run out of gas; whether BEA is willing to sell remains to be seen.

BEAS 1-yr chart:
beas chart