Avast CEO to step down; annual outcomes miss expectations

(Reuters) – Cyber security firm Avast’s long-time chief executive officer is stepping down, the company said on Wednesday as it reported marginally lower-than-expected adjusted revenue and earnings in its first annual results since listing in May.

Avast said Vince Steckler plans to retire in 2019 after 10 years in the top job and will be succeeded by Ondrej Vlcek, currently president of the company’s consumer business.

Steckler, widely considered to be the architect of Avast, led the company through the major acquisition of AVG and its listing on the London Stock Exchange. He is credited with having grown the company’s revenues from under $20 million to over $800 million.

He will step down on June 30, but will remain available in an advisory capacity for another year.

Vlcek, who started at Avast in 1995 as a developer, was part of the team that took the company public, and also led the integration of the consumer business after the company bought AVG in 2016.

Avast, which pioneered the “freemium” model in security software by giving away its basic product free, said it expects to deliver high single-digit adjusted revenue growth in 2019, while adjusted core earnings margin percentage is expected to remain broadly flat year-on-year.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rose 6.7 percent to $447.7 million, in the year ended Dec. 31. Adjusted revenue, excluding discontinued business, rose 9.5 percent to $811.5 million.

Analysts on average had estimated core earnings of $450.01 million on revenue of $819.16 million, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

The FTSE 250 company has diversified its revenue in recent years from its best known antivirus solution to include services such as e-commerce, browsing, advertising and analytics.

Its stock has risen nearly 24 percent since its May debut to close at 307.95 pence on Tuesday.

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