M&A market timing at CA

Contact: Brenon Daly

After a two-year hiatus that ended last fall, CA Inc has returned to the market with newfound enthusiasm. With the vendor’s purchase on Monday of network performance management provider NetQoS, CA has now inked six acquisitions over the past 12 months. That comes after an extended period (September 2006 to October 2008) when the normally acquisitive company stepped out of the market entirely.

During that time, CA’s four large rivals (BMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Symantec) announced a total of 61 transactions between them. Collectively, the quartet of buyers paid roughly 5.7 times trailing 12-month (TTM) revenue in the deals they did. (That’s the median valuation from the more than 20 transactions that either had terms disclosed or where we estimated the numbers.)

So from CA’s perspective, sitting out a period marked by historically high valuations might not be a bad thing at all. Consider this: CA’s purchase of NetQoS cost it $200m in cash, which worked out to 3.6x TTM sales. If we slap the prevailing multiple from the period CA was out of the market (5.7x TTM sales) onto CA’s most-recent deal, the price for NetQoS swells to $320m. Obviously, there were vastly different assumptions about growth rates in late 2006 and early 2007 than there are now, which goes a long way toward explaining the nearly 40% ‘discount’ that CA got by inking the NetQoS purchase on Monday rather than when the market was hot.