Earnings Preview: McAfee

| About: McAfee Inc. (MFE)

McAfee (MFE) is expected to report Q4 earnings after market close Thursday, February 12, with a conference call scheduled for 4:30 pm ET.


The consensus estimate is 53c for EPS and $420.58M for revenue, according to First Call. On the last earnings call management provided Q4 guidance of 50c-56c for EPS and revenue of $400M-$420M. RBC Capital's channel checks indicate McAfee's Q4 is tracking above Street revenue estimates due to strength in the enterprise segment.

Analyst Views

Goldman said that Q4 expectations are achievable, given the resilient nature of security spending in this environment, but all focus will be on forward guidance and expectations for Secure Computing. Goldman believes Q1 guidance remains biased to the downside given the first half margin hit from the Secure acquisition, currency headwinds, and its assumption of slowing consumer demand for new licenses driven by a weak PC cycle. First Call consensus estimates are for an EPS of 50c on $424.35M in revenue.

Cowen continues to believe fundamentals at McAfee are tracking among the best in their coverage universe as the company is executing well and continues to benefit from more sheltered security spending. Since the close of the Secure acquisition on Nov. 18, consensus estimates have moved around considerably and there is significant variance, making guidance particularly tricky, said Cowen. Based on the current consensus, Cowen believes there is significant risk the company "guides below the street" for Q1 due to incorrect assumptions in many estimates. Cowen said that recent business inputs suggest a healthy business at McAfee. The firm previously noted that PC softness in the consumer space should be mitigated by increased share within top 10 OEMs in the next several quarters. On the enterprise side, Cowen was hearing of particular strength in the federal sector, network security and competitive strength in system security. These inputs continue to give Cowen confidence in their 6% "organic" growth estimate in 2009.

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