Cut the CDN already, InterNap

Contact: Ben Kolada

We’ve long covered InterNap Network Services as both a potential target and a datacenter services vendor with disappointing earnings. With what’s likely to be another underwhelming quarter (the company reports Q3 results after the bell today), we take yet another look at what can be done to save this barely floating ship.

At this point, InterNap has got to unload some of its non-core assets. The company’s IP services segment, made up of interconnection and CDN services, is dragging on its total revenue (revenue from this segment fell 8% last year). However, interconnection is among the core services for hosting providers, so we’d suggest just divesting its CDN assets. Now may in fact be the best time to start weighing this option, given recent positive developments in the CDN sector. Akamai Technologies, the largest CDN provider, reported earnings yesterday that showed revenue grew 11% in Q3 from the year-ago period. And earlier this month, Japanese telco KDDI announced that it was taking an 86% equity stake in CDNetworks in a deal that gave the target an implied equity valuation of $195m. Even though growth had stalled at Seoul-based CDNetworks, the company was still able to command a 2x price-to-sales valuation (which stands in stark contrast to mostly disappointing valuations in the CDN sector).

Cutting some of the fat from InterNap’s business could make the company more palatable to prospective acquirers. However, the lack of growth is likely to prevent interest from most telcos. Instead, at this point buyout shops may be the most interested acquirers. Not only does InterNap have some of the characteristics PE firms prefer (it has very little net debt and consistently generates healthy cash flow), the company’s price is still within reach of some of the larger firms. Applying a simple 30%-per-share premium would put its price in the ballpark of $400m. For comparison, last year we saw financial firms announce a trio of deals each valued at $400m or more.