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Analysts downgrade Check Point after it withdraws from

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midastouch017   Sunday, 03/26/06 04:32:06 AM
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Analysts downgrade Check Point after it withdraws from Sourcefire deal

26.3.06 | 11:26 By Omri Cohen

Analysts downgraded Check Point Software Technologies (NASDAQ: CHKP) as last week ended, after the Israeli company bowed to American security concerns and canceled plans to buy Sourcefire.

Check Point had planned to buy Sourcefire for $225 million, but had trouble obtaining the approval of U.S. authorities, who worried about the seep of secret technologies beyond the U.S. News of its withdrawal sent Check Point stock retreating on heavy turnover in New York on Friday.

Merrill Lynch and SG Cowen promptly downgraded Check Point from Buy to Neutral. Jefferies had cut the Israeli company to Neutral back in November, after the company revealed its third-quarter results and forecasts for 2006.

Jefferies reduced the company's 12-month price target by a dollar to $21 and lowered its earnings per share for 2006 to $1.38, from $1.42, which is five cents below the Wall Street consensus for Check Point.

For 2006, Jefferies' revenue forecast for Check Point is $630 million, an increase of 8.8% from the year before.

Sourcefire's intrusion prevention technology was key to accelerating Check Point's product range, says Jefferies, adding that the company may not be able to realize its goals, as the acquisition had been a strategic one for it.

Credit Suisse First Boston commented that withdrawing from the transaction has cost Check Point a growth driver. CSFB's investment rating for Check Point is Neutral and its 12-month price target is $23.

Deutsche Bank also cut its forecasts for Check Point in 2006, and lowered its target from $27 to $23, agreeing that the company's "growth profile" has been impaired.

CIBC World Markets cut the price rather less, from $28 to $26, but repeated an Outperform rating for its stock. Simply, Check Point will have to look for something else to buy in order to spur growth, suggests the investment bank.



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