FIREYE: How A Red-Hot Wall Street Darling Turned Into One Of The Biggest Disasters On The Market

Enterprise security company FireEye may have just become the poster child for the tech bubble, both in its highs and its lows.

Shares of FireEye have been on a roller coaster since the company had a spectacular IPO last September. They are currently crashing, down nearly 25% on Wednesday and down a jaw-dropping 72% since its high in March.

Shares are trading at about $US28 on Wednesday after reaching a high of over $US97 in March. (52-week range is 27.22 – 97.35, most of it since March). When it launched as a public company in September, it priced its shares at $US20.

But that hasn’t stopped it from announcing another acquisition. On Tuesday, it announced that it had bought security firm nPulse Technologies for about $US70 million, $60 million cash and $US10 million in stock.

The company previously follows its $US1 billion acquisition of another security firm, Mandiant in January. Mandiant was famous for uncovering links between Chinese hackers and attacks on U.S. companies.

In fact, the company’s stock price got so hot, so fast, that it briefly turned founder Ashar Aziz, founder into a billionaire, with his a 7.8% stake. Near that high point in March, FireEye cashed in with a secondary offering, selling 5.6 million shares and raising another $US300 million, the same as it raised in its IPO.

The news has been less great for investors. After getting excited about the company’s future, they are now concerned about FireEye’s slowing growth.

FireEye IPONASDAQFireEye IPO

On Tuesday, the company announced a decent first quarter that topped Wall Street’s expectations, a net loss of $US101.2 million on a revenue spike of 161%, $US74 million.

But for the second time in two quarters, it revised its full-year guidance down.

Management now expects a full-year loss of $US2.10 to $US2.30 per share on revenue of $US405 million to $US415 million, versus the consensus of a $US2.03-per-share loss and revenue of $US407 million. In March it told Wall Street to expect a loss of $US2.00 to $US2.20, well below what analysts wanted to hear at that time.

This hits particularly hard because some Wall Street analysts have been really gung ho about the company, particularly after it bought Mandiant.

Wells Fargo started tracking it in early 2014, saying FireEye was “a once in a decade opportunity to invest in a truly disruptive technology.”

Analysts are still hot for the stock. The average target price is $US70, according to Yahoo Finance.

But some of them are coming back to earth about it. William Blair analyst Jonathan Ho, for instance, maintains an “outperform rating” on the stock but trimmed his price target to $US70 from $US105, reports the Fly On The Wall financial blog.

One reason why analysts have been so hot on the company is because the company’s flagship product solves a really hard computer security problem. It is able to stop hack attacks that were previously almost impossible to stop.

But now the company is under the burden of matching Wall Street’s very high hopes for it.

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