Cybersecurity stocks like FireEye Inc (NASDAQ:FEYE), which has risen 33% year to date, have been on fire this year thanks to the numerous hack attempts on corporate firewalls, where cyber thieves have stolen sensitive information and, in some cases, held corporate data hostage.
Where FEYE Stock Stands Today
But, how safe is FEYE stock? With such strong year-to-date gains already on the table, investors have begun to question how much more runway FEYE has left, especially on the heels of downbeat guidance by rival Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ:CHKP), which caused an 8.5% plunge in CHKP stock.
While Check Point guided for Q3 adjusted EPS in the range of $1.18-$1.28 per share, compared with the consensus of $1.28, its revenue range of $430 million-$465 million at the midpoint fell short of Street consensus of $463 million.
At that point, it didn’t matter that Check Point topped the Street’s second-quarter earnings expectations and maintained its full-year forecast of adjusted earnings of $5.05-$5.25 per share on revenue in the range of $1.85 billion-$1.9 billion. The way I see it, however, the weakness implied in Check Point’s outlook is its own to deal with.
Reasons to Bet on FEYE
Given the ever-connected world in which we live, cybersecurity will remain an increasingly important part of peoples’ lives and the health of businesses, fueling growth in companies like FEYE, which uses malware sandboxing technology, used for detecting advanced security threats before they find their way into a network. In the next three years, these organizations are expected to spend $101.6 billion on cybersecurity software, services, and hardware, according to research by the International Data Corporation (IDC).
That level of spending amounts to a 38% rise from the $73.7 billion that IDC projects organizations will spend on cybersecurity in 2016. “Security has become heavily scrutinized by boards of directors demanding that security budgets are used wisely and solutions operate at peak efficiency,” said Sean Pike, IDC’s vice president of security products.
This bodes well for FireEye, which has arguably best-of-breed security offerings that can help secure market share from larger rivals such as Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Fortinet Inc (NASDAQ:FTNT).
The Bears Are Ready to Put Out FEYE
Despite tons of reason for optimism, FEYE still faces tons of pressure from short sellers. As it stands, there are still some 30 million FEYE shares sold short, which is about six times the stock’s average daily volume. This has, nonetheless, been a painful short position, given that FEYE stock has skyrocketed as much as 52% from its 52-week low of $10.35.
FireEye’s cost-cutting efforts, combined with new product launches to grow the top line, have had a significant effect on its recent uptrend. The company is expected to report second-quarter earnings on August 1. Assuming FEYE delivers a top- and bottom-line beat, combined with upbeat guidance, the short sellers could get burned even more, creating increased buying pressure for FEYE stock.
Bottom Line for FEYE Stock
Despite the strong year-to-date returns and the 52% surge from its 52-week low, it would be a mistake to part with FEYE now, especially after the company has already endured a difficult two years in 2015 and 2016, during which it lost some 80% from its highest level in that time frame.
As such, investors who are looking for a small-cap growth tech stock operating in two vibrant markets — namely data security and cloud computing — should want to own FEYE stock, which I expect to rise an additional 15%, reaching $18 per share by the end of the year.
As of this writing, Richard Saintvilus did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.