Last week, I wrote about trends that investors simply cannot ignore right now, even in the midst of a bear market. While a bear market has enveloped the stock market and nearly swallowed individual stocks whole, there are still some bright spots. One such bright spot was cybersecurity stocks.
While the economy has been hitting a few snags and as there’s been destruction in tech, cybersecurity continues to do pretty well. That speaks to the risk that cybercrime, hacking, ransoms and other digital attacks present to companies — in good times or bad.
Companies have to secure their business. As more and more things become digital — whether it is patents, product secrets or customer information — these companies need to be proactive in protecting them. That means ponying up and paying the cybersecurity firms who specialize in this field.
When we look at the companies with earnings momentum, we’re seeing strength in cybersecurity stocks.
|PANW||Palo Alto Networks||$175.02|
Palo Alto Networks (PANW)
Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ:PANW) is the big dog among cybersecurity stocks and this company is doing just fine.
It weighs in with a $52 billion market capitalization and recently underwent a 3-for-1 stock split. While a stock split historically tends to help a stock price over the next 12 months, it doesn’t seem to have as strong of an effect during a bear market. At least not yet, anyway.
When the company reported earnings in May, it knocked the cover off the ball. So did many others. However, many companies then struggled in the most recent quarter. When Palo Alto delivered its FY Q4 results in late August, it again delivered a top- and bottom-line beat with a full-year guide that reassured investors. This company simply continues to execute at a very high level.
Analysts expect 25% revenue growth this year and more than 20% growth next year. That’s roughly in line with the earnings expectations too. While shares have rebounded nicely from the lows, Palo Alto is still down about 18% from the highs.
If we get further selling pressure in this name — or revisit the 2022 lows — it may be worth accumulating shares of this great company.
CrowdStrike (NASDAQ:CRWD) is not all that different from Palo Alto Networks. It’s one of the larger cybersecurity stocks, as it commands a $40 billion market cap. However, the stock is more expensive.
Shares trade at 18 times this year’s revenue. While that may startle some investors, realize that analysts expect revenue to grow about 54% this year and for earnings to double. That’s quite a bit more growth than Palo Alto Networks is giving us right now.
There’s nothing wrong with either company and both are great stocks — hence both of them being put on this list. But one has a higher valuation and higher growth and the other has a lower valuation and lower growth.
Further, CrowdStrike stock is down about 41% from the high and fell as much as 56% from the all-time high.
When the company last reported earnings in August, it beat on earnings and revenue estimates. Management also raised its full-year guidance. Not many companies can do this right now, particularly in tech. When momentum comes back to tech stocks, cybersecurity stocks will benefit.
The action in Datadog (NASDAQ:DDOG) has investors howling, as this has been the worst-performing stock of the three mentioned here. But that makes sense, given its newcomer status in the public markets. With a market cap just under $30 billion, it’s not necessarily small, but it’s smaller than PANW and CRWD stocks.
The stock went public in the second half of 2019, just a few quarters before the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing selloff. After bottoming near $29, shares exploded to a high of $199.68 in November 2021.
In other words, it’s been volatile since it went public (in both directions).
Analysts’ estimates are all over the place with this one but call for almost 60% revenue growth this year. There are some lower estimates — like 36% growth in FY 2023 — but some estimates are as high as 93% in the out-years. The firm is also profitable and growing at a steady rate.
On the date of publication, Bret Kenwell 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.