Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Proofpoint (NASDAQ:PFPT) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report published 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 research firms also recently issued reports on PFPT. Robert W. Baird reissued an outperform rating on shares of Proofpoint in a research report on Thursday, October 18th. Deutsche Bank lowered their price target on Proofpoint to $125.00 and set a buy rating for the company in a research report on Monday, October 1st. ValuEngine downgraded Proofpoint from a strong-buy rating to a buy rating in a research report on Tuesday, September 18th. BidaskClub downgraded Proofpoint from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report on Thursday, September 20th. Finally, Morgan Stanley set a $134.00 price target on Proofpoint and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Friday, October 19th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating and twenty-two have given a buy rating to the company. The company presently has a consensus rating of Buy and an average target price of $121.68.

PFPT stock traded up $1.60 during trading on Thursday, reaching $91.63. 723,400 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 559,162. Proofpoint has a 52-week low of $75.92 and a 52-week high of $130.27. The company has a market cap of $4.94 billion, a PE ratio of -70.01 and a beta of 1.48.

Proofpoint (NASDAQ:PFPT) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The software maker reported $0.40 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating 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 the consensus estimate of $181.69 million. Equities analysts predict that Proofpoint will post -1.14 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In related news, CEO Gary Steele sold 50,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, December 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $95.00, for a total value of $4,750,000.00. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 152,577 shares in the company, valued at $14,494,815. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Insiders own 3.37% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in PFPT. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its stake in Proofpoint by 3.2% during the third quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 4,460,432 shares of the software maker’s stock valued at $474,277,000 after buying an additional 137,876 shares in the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc raised its stake in Proofpoint by 3.2% during the third quarter. Vanguard Group Inc now owns 4,460,432 shares of the software maker’s stock valued at $474,277,000 after buying an additional 137,876 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. raised its stake in Proofpoint by 1.0% during the third quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 2,488,546 shares of the software maker’s stock valued at $264,607,000 after buying an additional 25,562 shares in the last quarter. TIAA CREF Investment Management LLC raised its stake in Proofpoint by 149.9% during the third quarter. TIAA CREF Investment Management LLC now owns 1,812,611 shares of the software maker’s stock valued at $192,735,000 after buying an additional 1,087,297 shares in the last quarter. Finally, FMR LLC raised its stake in Proofpoint by 22.2% during the third quarter. FMR LLC now owns 1,516,931 shares of the software maker’s stock valued at $161,295,000 after buying an additional 276,000 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 97.49% of the company’s stock.

About Proofpoint

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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