Akamai Grows with Internet Cloud

November 1, 2011

Akamai Technologies' (AKAM) stock price is $26.43 as I write. Before (Wednesday, October 26, 2011) Akamai's Q3 results announcement and analyst conference call the price ended at $23.77, and its peak the last few days was $28.28 on Friday. Clearly the results and outlooks pleased more traders than they displeased. What can we learn from the results and conference call?

Akamai is best known from the dot.com boom bust era, when it soared in price before it started showing profits. During the last decade its earnings have grown pretty steadily on a year to year basis. Its stock price and P/E ratio has been pretty well-aligned with reality. Today the trailing 12 month P/E is 26. Non-GAAP earnings for Q3 were up 10% y/y, and revenues were up 11%. The P/E is a bit high for this market, but the almost the entire market is undervalued due to fear still triumphing over greed.

Akamai's core business is content delivery, speeding up web page and file delivery from originators to consumers. Increasingly its income and profits are derived from "value-added" businesses, including security for cloud datacenters and DSA (dynamic site acceleration). It is also involved in accelerating the delivery of content to mobile devices.

As the amount of data delivered by the Internet, including cellular networks, grows, so does Akamai, presuming it maintains its large market share in the business. But prices also drop on a per unit basis as volume goes up. Akamai management believes that the delivery of video content is going to drive up volume, revenue and profits. While video data delivery is growing rapidly, it has not yet started to accelerate at rates that would compensate for Akamai's aggressive pricing to its clients.

There is always concern about competition, but mostly competitors have had to compete on price to win customers, making their profit margins thin or non-existent. Akamai has $1.2 billion in cash and equivalents and generated $116 million in cash flow from operations in the quarter. They invested $47 million in capital expenditures. It is hard to compete with that, as I wrote in Akamai or Limelight? in January of this year.

At this price I am holding my Akamai stock, believing that downside risks are mainly market risks while upside potential is present from both increased video delivery and broader adoption of Akamai's cloud services solutions. Another bright spot is international revenue, which grew 15% y/y. Akamai started in the U.S. and is still expanding its reach to developing economies.

I first bought Akamai for $17.56 per share in September of 2008 when everyone else was panicking. I have both bought and sold shares since then, as P/E ratios have swung rather wildly (the 52 week high was $54.65, 52 weak low was $18.25).

For more detail see my Akamai (AKAM) Q3 2011 conference call summary.

Disclaimer: I am long AKAM, but occasionally trim or expand my position. I don't plan to trade AKAM in the next 3 days.

William P. Meyers

See also: www.akamai.com

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Copyright 2011 William P. Meyers