Does Akamai have what it takes to make long term investors happy even after this recession ends and stock prices go to normal levels relative to fundamentals?
I am not sure. Akamai accelerates the Internet. They are good at it. They have a technological edge over all rivals. I would not be surprised if the size of Akamai, measured in terms of revenues or net income, is ten times today's ten years from now. On the other hand, we are going into uncharted terrain where you can't just draw a line on a graph and assume it will rise linearly or exponentially forever.
It does seem likely that Internet usage, measured in bits delivered, will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. But it might not. Much of the growth in the past ten years has been driven by the shift to bandwidth intensive applications. Sending a text email over the net involves shifting a few bits. Sending a small image as an attachment with the email can increase the number of bits by an order or more of magnitude. Audio and high quality still pictures require another order of magnitude or more of data transfer. The short videos made for tiny windows of a few years ago upped the stakes yet again.
The number of people using the Internet, however, no longer climbs at the dizzying rate of the 1990s. Most of the growth in new customers now comes in developing countries. In some nations, like the U.S., the failure to provide a comprehensive broadband infrastructure has also put a damper on Internet data transfer growth. You can't do much with video when you access the net with a dial-up modem connection. But to the extent people start expecting DVD quality or HD quality video over the Internet, we still have a long way to go in increased bandwidth.
Your guess is as good as the experts. My guess is that it will be at least five to ten years before Internet growth rates really flatten out.
So if Akamai maintains market share, we can look forward to a good decade. What are the chances Akamai will gain or lose market share?
It is easy to see Akamai gaining market share. They simply accelerate Internet delivery faster than any other company can. Right now. You don't want to run a major merchant web site right now without Akamai's help.
Akamai is also starting to have better penetration outside the U.S. That alone could be a major growth driver.
On the other hand, plenty of would-be competitors exist. Most are losing money, but some may reach the inflection point where they have enough customers to make money. The really big companies that are well-situated to compete with Akamai are Cisco and Oracle. Cisco, in particular, probably possesses the skills to do well in the Web acceleration business. But Cisco has a lot of other fires burning right now. Akamai is thriving on specialization.
So I would judge competition to be a threat, but not enough of a threat to bet against Akamai staying on top for at least the next few years.
How did Akamai do in the latest quarter?
Revenue was $210.4 million, down 1% sequentially from $212.6 million and up 12% from $187.0 million year-earlier.
Net income was $37.1 million, down 9% sequentially from $40.5 million, but up slightly from $36.9 million year-earlier.
EPS (earnings per share) were $0.20, down 9% sequentially from $0.22, and flat from $0.20 year-earlier.
Cash from operations was $90.5 million, up 3% y/y. The company held $848.5 million in cash and equivalents at the end of the quarter. There are $200 million in convertible notes outstanding. Capital expenditures were $25.0 million.
See my Akamai Analyst Conference Summary of April 29, 2009 for a higher level of detail.
Akamai Investor Relations page
My Akamai main page