- While down 16% year to date, Palo Alto Networks’ (PANW) stock has outperformed the benchmark Nasdaq index by a wide margin.
- Analysts remain bullish on the cybersecurity company, with some forecasting more than 50% upside in the year ahead.
- The entire cybersecurity space is gaining in importance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and stark presidential warnings.
Is now the time to invest in cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ:PANW) stock?
Like all technology stocks, shares of PANW have been pulled lower this year. However, they have not fallen as far as most other tech companies. Since the first trading day of the year in January, PANW stock has come down 18%.
While not great, that decline is better than the 25% fall in the technology laden Nasdaq index on which Palo Alto Networks trades. And, despite the pullback, Palo Alto’s stock is still up 37% over the last 12 months, making it one of the best performing stocks of the past year.
The rise has been the result of solid earnings on the part of the company and a growing focus on cybersecurity, which has only intensified since Russia invaded Ukraine.
|PANW||Palo Alto Networks||$458.65|
More Upside Ahead for PANW Stock
Despite the big run over the last year, analysts continue to see more upside ahead for PANW stock. In April, KeyCorp upgraded its rating on Palo Alto’s stock to “outperform” and lifted the price target on the shares to $729 from $643 previously. That suggests Palo Alto’s share price could rise a further 59% from current levels.
Similarly, Wedbush increased its price target on Palo Alto Networks’ stock to $660 a share from $630 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating, implying 44% upside in the months ahead. Among 33 analysts who cover the company, the median price target on the stock is currently $635.10, which would be 34% higher than where it currently trades.
Cybersecurity in Focus
The bullish calls on PANW stock come as cybersecurity remains a top of mind issue for governments and corporate America in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In late March, President Joe Biden warned corporations of an imminent threat posed by Russian hackers, saying that cyberattacks on U.S. companies were “coming” and urging companies large and small to bolster their defenses.
While unsettling to most people, Biden’s warning played right into the wheelhouse of Palo Alto Networks and other cybersecurity firms.
The growing importance placed on cybersecurity helps explain Palo Alto’s strong earnings streak. The company most recently beat Wall Street forecasts on the top and bottom lines, earning $1.74 per share compared to estimates of $1.65.
Buy PANW Stock
Cybersecurity is growing in importance, and Palo Alto Networks is expected to be a beneficiary. While the stock has gained 37% in the past year, analysts see a lot more upside ahead as governments and private sector companies move to enhance their online defenses.
With the stock down 18% year to date, investors should view it as a buy the dip opportunity and move to take a position in the Santa Clara-based company. PANW stock is a buy.
On the date of publication, Joel Baglole did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.