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Clearwater’s Tech Data becomes Florida’s largest company after 40 percent sales surge

By Sara DiNatale
Tech Data Corp. CEO Bob Dutkowsky spent most of his time on Thursday evening's conference call with analysts defending the company's weaker-than-expected financial performance in its fiscal second quarter. Shares fell by at least 19 percent in after-hours trading Thursday. [Courtesy of CNBC]

CLEARWATER — Tampa Bay’s Tech Data Corp. closed its fourth quarter as Florida’s largest company fueled by a 40 percent surge in sales compared to 2016.

But investors were more focused on the global IT wholesaler’s bottom line. By the close of the market Thursday, shares had plummeted nearly 20 percent to close at $86.40.

Its $36.8 billion in annual sales is thanks largely to the Tech Data’s acquisition from Avnet, Inc. which pushed the company into Asia for the first time in February 2017.

"We saw it coming; we kind of knew the math," Tech Data CEO Robert Dutkowsky said in an interview. "We quietly went about our business. We’re happy for the company now, and more happy for Tampa Bay."

In 2016, Tech Data was the state’s second-largest public company behind Miami’s World Fuel Services. In 2017, the company that services ships, jets and trucks posted $33.7 billion in revenues. Now the Tampa Bay tech company is in more than 100 countries.

"I think it’s interesting the largest company in Florida and in Tampa Bay is not a cruise line, but a tech company," Dutkowsky said. "No one would think that."

Despite Tech Data’s sales jump, the company took a hit in its net income. Its fourth quarter profit tumbled to $1.3 million, or 3 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for pretax expenses and costs related to mergers and acquisitions, were $3.50 per share. Wall Street analysts were expecting $3.53 per share on average, according to an estimate by Zacks Investment Research.