Red Hat Falls After Piper Sees Billings Growth Slowdown

Red Hat Inc. (RHT), the largest seller of the open-source Linux operating system, fell after an analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co. projected a slowdown in billings growth.

The Raleigh, North Carolina-based company declined 3.4 percent to $54.43 at the close in New York, for the third-worst performance in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The stock has climbed 32 percent this year.

Billings, a predictor of revenue, “could lack the explosiveness seen in the fourth quarter,” said Mark Murphy, an analyst at Piper Jaffray in San Francisco, in a note today. “The macroeconomic climate has degraded since Red Hat issued guidance in March.”

As Red Hat works to expand its offerings for customers who want to access data over the Internet using so-called cloud computing, the company is also dealing with the impact of fluctuations in foreign currencies and the European debt crisis, Murphy said. He has an overweight rating on shares, the equivalent of a buy recommendation, and a target price of $63.

“While billings growth should decelerate this year, we continue to believe Red Hat is favorably positioned into the secular trends of cloud computing, open source, virtualization and unstructured data, and should continue gaining market share,” Murphy said.

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