The test and network security specialist is trolling for offers to see if a deal might be out there. The segment is ripe for consolidation, though. If it's not Ixia, it's likely to be somebody else.

Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading

December 16, 2016

3 Min Read
Ixia's for Sale. Who Might Buy?

Ixia is up for sale. Ixia itself is not commenting, but Reuters said the company has hired an investment banker, competitors acknowledge off the record the company is shopping itself, and Wall Street analysts note the company's stock has been moving more than it should without any other news. The stock hit $17.00 a share Thursday, a new 52-week high, before slipping a bit to close at $16.75.

JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall published a research note this week in which he assumes that Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) is for sale, and says he believes Ixia provides more upside potential for Viavi Solutions Inc. than for other candidates. He names EXFO (Nasdaq: EXFO; Toronto: EXF).

Keysite Technologies has also been identified as a possible suitor.

Ixia does not appear to anybody to be in a position where it must sell, so there remains a question if it will sell.

That said, the entire test space is widely considered ripe for consolidation. For starters, there are simply a lot of test companies out there -- hundreds in fact, according to the database listing at Testapedia. (See Test & Measurement – A Niche No More.)

Then there are market considerations. Customers that used to be one thing or another -- fixed telco, wireless telco, cable, satellite -- are merging in genre-bending combinations, making it tougher to cater to just one category or another.

Want to know more about the companies, people and organizations driving developments in the test, monitoring and assurance sector? Check out Testapedia, the most comprehensive online resource covering the telecom test and measurement industry.

Furthermore, it's a well-established trend that several links in the product lifecycle chain -- design, test, monitoring, assurance and network management -- are overlapping each other, leading many to assume they'll all inevitably become part of a continuum.

That phenomenon of previously distinct segments overlapping is one of the main things that impelled NetScout Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: NTCT) to buy most of the test operations of Danaher several years ago. In so doing, Netscout set itself up as a model for this sort of consolidation.

Ixia in and of itself is an example of this. Starting out as a test company, it has branched out into security technology, as the product set in its Testapedia company listing shows.

Any of the named potential suitors would find Ixia's operations mostly complementary to their own (the same would be true for several other potential suitors in the space). One question swirling around the sale of Ixia is who among the interested parties has the wherewithal to duplicate Netscout's approach? Viavi has a market capitalization roughly similar to Ixia's. Ixia's is $1.37 billion. Viavi's is $1.96 billion. Keysight's is $6 billion. Exfo's is about $235 million.

The next question is whether the Ixia sales process kicks off a wave of merger and acquisition activity as there's been in the fevered semiconductor sector, or if the relatively staid T&M companies, many of them privately held, opt to bide their time.

— Brian Santo, SeniorEditor, Components, T&M, LightReading

About the Author(s)

Brian Santo

Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading

Santo joined Light Reading on September 14, 2015, with a mission to turn the test & measurement and components sectors upside down and then see what falls out, photograph the debris and then write about it in a manner befitting his vast experience. That experience includes more than nine years at video and broadband industry publication CED, where he was editor-in-chief until May 2015. He previously worked as an analyst at SNL Kagan, as Technology Editor of Cable World and held various editorial roles at Electronic Engineering Times, IEEE Spectrum and Electronic News. Santo has also made and sold bedroom furniture, which is not directly relevant to his role at Light Reading but which has already earned him the nickname 'Cribmaster.'

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