Casa Boosts Revenue Guidance, Another CFO Quits

Shares in Casa Systems surged Friday after the struggling cable and wireless tech supplier raised its revenue guidance for 2019 paired with news that its chief financial officer is resigning to pursue an opportunity outside the industry.

Casa, a maker of cable access gear and wireless and mobile infrastructure products, boosted 2019 GAAP revenue guidance from $255 million to $270 million, to $275 million to $280 million. It also said that it will meet or exceed its 2019 guidance for gross margin, adjusted EBITDA and the expected diluted net loss per share announced in September.

Casa shares jumped 88 cents (24%) to $4.51 each in afternoon trading Friday.

Casa didn't elaborate on why it raised guidance, noting it will discuss Q4 2019 results in more detail during a call set for the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 20. The increase is an indicator that Casa's cable infrastructure and capacity spending perked up a bit toward the end of last year.

Purchases by Charter Communications, a key customer that contributed 15% of revenues through the first nine months of 2019, rank among the likely contributors to the vendor's Q4 beat, Simon Leopold, analyst with Raymond James, speculated in a research note. However, he remains wary of the lumpy nature and ongoing revisions to Casa's business, which has more prominently focused on fixed wireless following its acquisition of Australia-based NetComm Wireless last year.

Charter, which has seen a sharp reduction in capex after completing its DOCSIS 3.1 network upgrade, reports Q4 results next week.

"A better outlook is always a positive; however multiple revisions highlight the difficulty forecasting the business," Leopold wrote. "The announcement did not include any color around what drove the revision, although we assume higher capacity expansion and wireless likely contributed."

Leopold now expects Casa to pull in 2020 sales of $344 million, up from prior expectations of $329 million, but is keeping earnings per share unchanged at -11 cents.

Amid the positive news about 2019 revenues, Casa also announced that CFO Maurizio Nicolelli will resign at the end of the month to take a CFO slot outside the industry. Nicolelli succeeded Gary Hall, who left Casa in August 2018.

Casa stressed that the departure of Nicolelli, who joined Casa in January 2019, "is not based on any disagreement with the company's accounting principles, practices or financial statement disclosures."

The Casa board has appointed Scott Brucker as interim CFO as the company conducts a search for a permanent replacement.

"The CFO announcement marks the second departure since Casa went public two years ago," Leopold wrote. "Although his departure was not performance related or based on any disagreement, we typically view sudden C-level departures such as this as a yellow flag."

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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