Proofpoint (PFPT) Downgraded to “Sell” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Proofpoint (NASDAQ:PFPT) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note released on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “Proofpoint anticipates headwinds this year due to no contribution from the Cloudmark OEM business. Moreover, since it continues to invest in sales and marketing, we anticipate this to remain a drag on the company’s bottom line in the near term. Near-term prospects for Proofpoint are not promising as changing customer spending behavior has recently hit several other players in this space. Shares underperformed the industry in the past one year. Nonetheless, the company is benefiting from robust demand for the company’s next-generation SaaS-based security and compliance platform. Estimates have been stable lately ahead of the company’s Q4 earnings release. The company has positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters.”

A number of other equities research analysts have also commented on PFPT. JMP Securities decreased their price objective on Proofpoint from $145.00 to $115.00 and set an outperform rating for the company in a research report on Friday, October 26th. Wedbush decreased their price objective on Proofpoint from $124.00 to $115.00 and set an outperform rating for the company in a research report on Tuesday, January 8th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. BidaskClub upgraded Proofpoint from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report on Friday, October 12th. Monness Crespi & Hardt decreased their price objective on Proofpoint from $140.00 to $115.00 and set a buy rating for the company in a research report on Friday, October 26th. Finally, Guggenheim assumed coverage on Proofpoint in a research report on Monday, December 10th. They set a buy rating and a $110.00 price objective for the company. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have issued a hold rating and twenty-two have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $121.68.

NASDAQ:PFPT opened at $91.63 on Thursday. Proofpoint has a 1-year low of $75.92 and a 1-year high of $130.27. The firm has a market capitalization of $4.94 billion, a P/E ratio of -69.95 and a beta of 1.48.

Proofpoint (NASDAQ:PFPT) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 25th. The software maker reported $0.40 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of ($0.33) by $0.73. Proofpoint had a negative return on equity of 11.86% and a negative net margin of 14.08%. The firm had revenue of $184.18 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $181.69 million. Research analysts expect that Proofpoint will post -1.14 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In other news, CEO Gary Steele sold 50,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, December 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $95.00, for a total transaction of $4,750,000.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 152,577 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $14,494,815. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. 3.37% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of PFPT. TIAA CREF Investment Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Proofpoint by 149.9% during the 3rd quarter. TIAA CREF Investment Management LLC now owns 1,812,611 shares of the software maker’s stock worth $192,735,000 after purchasing an additional 1,087,297 shares in the last quarter. Teachers Advisors LLC raised its stake in shares of Proofpoint by 111.0% in the 3rd quarter. Teachers Advisors LLC now owns 849,483 shares of the software maker’s stock valued at $90,326,000 after acquiring an additional 446,817 shares in the last quarter. Neuberger Berman Group LLC raised its stake in shares of Proofpoint by 143.0% in the 3rd quarter. Neuberger Berman Group LLC now owns 734,917 shares of the software maker’s stock valued at $78,144,000 after acquiring an additional 432,467 shares in the last quarter. Wasatch Advisors Inc. raised its stake in shares of Proofpoint by 40.0% in the 3rd quarter. Wasatch Advisors Inc. now owns 992,935 shares of the software maker’s stock valued at $105,579,000 after acquiring an additional 283,598 shares in the last quarter. Finally, FMR LLC raised its stake in shares of Proofpoint by 22.2% in the 3rd quarter. FMR LLC now owns 1,516,931 shares of the software maker’s stock valued at $161,295,000 after acquiring an additional 276,000 shares in the last quarter. 97.49% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Proofpoint Company Profile

Proofpoint, Inc operates as a security-as-a-service (SaaS) provider that enables large and mid-sized organizations to defend, protect, archive, and govern their sensitive data worldwide. It offers protection against advanced and targeted threats, including malicious attachments, polymorphic threats, zero-day exploits, user-transparent ‘drive-by' downloads, malicious Web links, hybrid threats, malware free attacks, and other penetration tactics.

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