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Puppet master investors tug on Citrix as 'wind turns'

Q4 sales rise, so do profits (cos of tax benefits) and the share price

Puppet master-cum activist investor Elliot Management appears to be pulling virtualisation vendor Citrix's strings in the right direction… for shareholders if not for some staff.

Elliott Management upped its stake in Citrix last summer and made it known it wasn’t happy about the state of the business or share price, and criticised the firm's channel and product strategies.

Now, the CEO has split, business units deemed non-core are being spun off and mass redundancies enacted, the "accelerated turnaround" appears to be paying off.

For calendar Q4, revenues grew to $904.7m from $851.4m and expanded to $3.275bn for the year, up more than four per cent.

Product and licenses sales were up five per cent to $281.3m, SaaS edged up to $193.5m from $168.4m, license updates and maintenance jumped 7.1 per cent to $392.96m, and professional services came in at $36.9m, down 24 per cent.

In a conference call, COO David Henshall, said the overall numbers “reflect the progress the team has made in absorbing and adjusting to these initiatives, cost structure work, org and leadership evolutions and change to our field and channel strategy”.

He said it booked 86 $1m-plus Q4 deals with 60 of them signed in the US and 23 in EMEA. One third were virtualisation and mobile product projects, a third were in networking, 20 per cent in workspace and the “remainder coming from subscription and services”.

The Workspace unit was up four per cent to $352m, while networking grew 13 per cent to $220m.

Plans to spin-off the GoTo portfolio was “well on track”, the exec said.

Operating expenses jumped to $589.6m, largely due to a spike in general & admin and restructuring costs related to the lay-offs. As such, operating profit fell to $112.4m, versus $117.4m a year ago.

But an unspecified ‘income benefit’ and a tax benefit resulted in net profit of $131.2m, up from $95.2m in Q4 2014.

Exec chairman Bob Calderoni, who was acting CEO until successor Kirill Tatarinov was appointed recently, said:

“The competitive winds are definitely turning in our favour. That is true with customers, evidenced by a number of competitive take-outs, it’s true in partners as well on the recruiting front.

“Yet I believe it is prudent to remain conservative and realise a few more quarters of consistent performance before we raise expectations further."

The market reacted positively and the share price swelled by 9.6 per cent to $72.28. ®

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