Atanas Stoyanov
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Symantec’s Move To Acquire LifeLock Gets Mixed Reviews


Symantec Corporation’s (NASDAQ:SYMCC) announcement this past weekend that it planned to buy identity protection company LifeLock Inc. (NYSE:LOCKB) for $2.3 billion was met with some surprise given the price was more than 3 times LifeLock’s 2012 initial public offering valuation.

Not to mention the growing pains LifeLock experienced following a failed marketing stunt in which the company’s CEO reportedly had his identity stolen 13 times. Then there was the charge of deceptive advertising by the Federal Trade Commission, resulting in a $100 million settlement in 2015.

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So, Why The Buy?

Recently Lifelock has added customers. The company claimed membership of 4.4 million as of Sept. 30. That represents an 8% boost from the year before. In that span the company’s stock price has more than doubled since the initial plunge.

Symantec CEO Greg Clark said, “We are thoroughly satisfied that any previous issues are in the past. Consumers vote with their wallets and there are 4.4 million happy and committed LifeLock customers — and growing.”

What LifeLock Does

LifeLock is an identity protection company. Members pay between $10 and $30 per month to monitor their credit score and financial transactions. If a customer’s identity is stolen, LifeLock says it will work to restore and reimburse lost funds.

The company said it shored up security following a pair of FTC lawsuits and went public in 2012, raising $141 million to put the company’s value at $778 million.

Symantec’s Goal

Symantec sees acquiring LifeLock as a way to beef up its consumer-product line. The bulk of that line has revolved around Norton anti-virus products.

Symantec said it would keep both Norton and LifeLock and integrate its new acquisition with Norton into a single product line as soon as the deal closes, early next year. The ultimate goal is to provide customers with a one-stop shop for ID theft and computer protection.

Reversing Revenue Losses

Combining the LifeLock and Norton product lines is seen by Symantec as a $2.3 billion annual revenue stream. Despite strong interest on computer security, Symantec has struggled and ended the fiscal year April 1 down 9% from a year earlier.

LifeLock has seen a 14.5% revenue increase through the first nine months of the year. The company’s growth has come, in part, due to aggressive marketing, part of the reason the company paid $113 million to settle a deceptive advertising charge by the FTC.

The Deal

The cash deal values LifeLock at $24 per share representing a 16% premium over its Friday price of $20.75. Shares of Symantec closed up 3.24% Monday at $24.52.

The company hopes the deal will help it overcome slow sales due to a slowdown in PC sales, introduction of free anti-virus products and a widespread move to mobile devices.

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Fear Of Failure

Peter Firstbrook, analyst at Gartner, said, “Symantec’s strategy is to retreat to the high end of the market.” Firstbrook added that in that regard, the deal, “makes some sense.”

He warned, however that LifeLock may not continue to grow. In an email Firstbrook said that LifeLock’s core business of monitoring consumers’ identity “is relatively flat and seems to be fully penetrated.”