Press Release: Fortinet Reports Fourth Quarter -3-
revenue in the current quarter and FortiGuard and FortiCare service revenues in subsequent quarters, as we sell annual and multi-year service contracts that are recognized ratably over the contractual service term. In addition, the broader implications of the pandemic on our business and operations and our financial results, including the extent to which the effects of the pandemic will impact future results and growth in the cybersecurity industry, remain uncertain. The duration and severity of the economic downturn from the pandemic may negatively impact our business and operations, results of operations, financial condition, cash flows, liquidity and capital and financial resources in a material way. As a result, the effects of the pandemic may not be fully reflected in our results of operations until future periods.
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
We have provided in this release financial information that has not been prepared in accordance with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). These non-GAAP financial and liquidity measures are not based on any standardized methodology prescribed by GAAP and are not necessarily comparable to similar measures presented by other companies. We use these non-GAAP financial measures internally in analyzing our financial results and believe they are useful to investors, as a supplement to GAAP measures, in evaluating our ongoing operational performance. We believe that the use of these non-GAAP financial measures provides an additional tool for investors to use in evaluating ongoing operating results and trends and in comparing our financial results with peer companies, many of which present similar non-GAAP financial measures to investors.
Non-GAAP financial measures should not be considered in isolation from, or as a substitute for, financial information prepared in accordance with GAAP. Investors are encouraged to review the reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures to their most directly comparable GAAP financial measures provided in the financial statement tables below.
Billings (non-GAAP). We define billings as revenue recognized in accordance with GAAP plus the change in deferred revenue from the beginning to the end of the period, less any deferred revenue balances acquired from business combination(s) during the period. We consider billings to be a useful metric for management and investors because billings drive current and future revenue, which is an important indicator of the health and viability of our business. There are a number of limitations related to the use of billings instead of GAAP revenue. First, billings include amounts that have not yet been recognized as revenue and are impacted by the term of security and support agreements. Second, we may calculate billings in a manner that is different from peer companies that report similar financial measures. Management accounts for these limitations by providing specific information regarding GAAP revenue and evaluating billings together with GAAP revenue.
Free cash flow (non-GAAP). We define free cash flow as net cash provided by operating activities minus purchases of property and equipment and excluding any significant non-recurring items, such as proceeds from intellectual property matter. We believe free cash flow to be a liquidity measure that provides useful information to management and investors about the amount of cash generated by the business that, after capital expenditures and net of proceeds from intellectual property matter, can be used for strategic opportunities, including repurchasing outstanding common stock, investing in our business, making strategic acquisitions and strengthening the balance sheet. A limitation of using free cash flow rather than the GAAP measures of cash provided by or used in operating activities, investing activities, and financing activities is that free cash flow does not represent the total increase or decrease in the cash and cash equivalents balance for the period because it excludes cash flows from significant non-recurring items, such as proceeds from intellectual property matter, investing activities other than capital expenditures and cash flows from financing activities. Management accounts for this limitation by providing information about our capital expenditures and other investing and financing activities on the face of the cash flow statement and under the caption "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations--Liquidity and Capital Resources" in our most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q and Annual Report on Form 10-K and by presenting cash flows from investing and financing activities in our reconciliation of free cash flow. In addition, it is important to note that other companies, including companies in our industry, may not use free cash flow, may calculate free cash flow in a different manner than we do or may use other financial measures to evaluate their performance, all of which could reduce the usefulness of free cash flow as a comparative measure.
Non-GAAP operating income and operating margin. We define non-GAAP operating income as operating income plus stock-based compensation, impairment and amortization of acquired intangible assets, less gain on intellectual property matter and, when applicable, other significant non-recurring items in a given quarter, such as non-recurring gains or losses on litigation-related matters. Non-GAAP operating margin is defined as non-GAAP operating income divided by GAAP revenue. We consider these non-GAAP financial measures to be useful metrics for management and investors because they exclude the items noted above so that our management and investors can compare our recurring core business operating results over multiple periods. There are a number of limitations related to the use of non-GAAP operating income instead of operating income or loss calculated in accordance with GAAP. First, non-GAAP operating income excludes the items noted above. Second, the components of the costs that we exclude from our calculation of non-GAAP operating income may differ from the components that peer companies exclude when they report their non-GAAP results of operations. Management accounts for these limitations by providing specific information regarding the GAAP amounts excluded from non-GAAP operating income and evaluating non-GAAP operating income together with operating income calculated in accordance with GAAP.
Non-GAAP net income and diluted net income per share. We define non-GAAP net income as net income or loss plus the items noted above under non-GAAP operating income and operating margin. In addition, we adjust non-GAAP net income and diluted net income per share for gains or losses on investments in privately held companies and a tax adjustment required for an effective tax rate on a non-GAAP basis, which differs from the GAAP effective tax rate. We define non-GAAP diluted net income per share as non-GAAP net income divided by the non-GAAP diluted weighted-average shares outstanding. We consider these non-GAAP financial measures to be useful metrics for management and investors for the same reasons that we use non-GAAP operating income and non-GAAP operating margin. However, in order to provide a more complete picture of our recurring core business operating results, we include in non-GAAP net income and non-GAAP diluted net income per share, the tax adjustment required resulting in an effective tax rate on a non-GAAP basis, which often differs from the GAAP tax rate. We believe the non-GAAP effective tax rates we use are reasonable estimates of normalized tax rates for our current and prior fiscal years under our global operating structure. The same limitations described above regarding our use of non-GAAP operating income and non-GAAP operating margin apply to our use of non-GAAP net income and non-GAAP diluted net income per share. We account for these limitations by providing specific information regarding the GAAP amounts excluded from non-GAAP net income and non-GAAP diluted net income per share and evaluating non-GAAP net income and non-GAAP diluted net income per share together with net income or loss and diluted net income per share calculated in accordance with GAAP.
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