Wednesday 13 March 2019 7:43 am

Avast shares drop as CEO prepares to step down despite cyber fears pushing profits up

Cyber security firm Avast saw its shares fall more than five per cent this morning after it announced chief executive Vince Steckler will step down later this year. 

Read more: Avast sets sail on substantial maiden results

The figures

Avast’s revenue rose 24 per cent from $652.9m (£498m) to $808.3m.

Operating profit doubled from $124.3m to $248.3m.

Cash flow rose 14 per cent to $394m.

Net income hit $241.2m, up from a $33.8m deficit last year.

Why it’s interesting

Avast has enjoyed strong trading, posting a rise in revenue and operating profit in its first full-year results since its initial public offering (IPO).

The cyber security provider said the results were in line with its expectations, as the firm hit the milestone of 12m paying customers for its core PC products.

The company launched a string of new products over the year, including family safety products in partnership with mobile operators Verizon, AT&T and Wind.

Avast said it forecasts high single-digit revenue growth in the year ahead.

Chief financial officer Phil Marshall told City A.M. the results were “very pleasing” given the company only floated a year ago. “There's a tremendous pride that we could bring the company to this scale,” he added.

Marshall also said the firm had benefited from a growing awareness of cyber security issues. “A big part of this is folks being made aware and feeling there's a need for our products,” he said.

In a separate announcement the firm said chief executive Vince Steckler will retire at the end of June after 10 years at the firm. Steckler will be succeeded by Ondrej Vlcek, who is currently president of Avast’s consumer business.

Marshall said the long-serving boss had been “instrumental” to the growth of the company over the last decade.

In addition, Avast said it has appointed Maggie Chan Jones and Tamara Minick-Scokalo as non-executive directors. The firm said the appointments bolster its efforts to improve the diversity of its board.

Read more: Think of cyber threats are a business risk, not a dark art

What Avast said

Chief executive Vince Steckler said: “I’m pleased to report a successful year for Avast. The business delivered a strong financial performance in line with expectations.

“Alongside continued good growth in traditional markets, we achieved strong momentum in new target countries through our localisation strategy.

“In 2018 we continued to invest in the breadth and quality of our offerings. We have another healthy pipeline of product launches for 2019, including our new Smart Home security solution.”

Chairman John Schwarz said: “Vince has been the architect of the company’s success over 10 years. As chief executive, he has guided Avast’s tremendous growth, from a company with under $20m in revenue to over $800m as reported today.

“He has also led the group through a major acquisition and successful IPO. We are grateful for his contribution and commitment to ensure a smooth leadership transition.”