Recently, cybersecurity stocks had a setback after Fortinet (NASDAQ:FTNT) delivered a weak quarter, citing a slowdown in secure networking. However, these issues seem specific to Fortinet and don’t affect other cybersecurity stocks. Notably, the company had the same problems in the second quarter while other players beat consensus estimates.
Overall, cybersecurity is a secular growth market for the next five years. As recent attacks have shown, digital defense has never been more critical. Companies that ignore their security infrastructure are suffering at the hands of rogue hackers. Recent attacks on Las Vegas casinos and Clorox (NYSE:CLX) have highlighted the urgency required.
Since several cybersecurity stocks reacted negatively to Fortinet’s earnings, it’s time to revisit the sector. Chief Technology and Chief Information Security officers will continue to prioritize security spending. They must boost their defenses on-premises and the cloud in order to protect customer and company data.
A massive investment cycle will take shape in the coming years. Statista estimates that cyber security revenues will hit $273 billion by 2028. These innovative cybersecurity stocks will be beneficiaries.
Palo Alto Networks (PANW)
After Fortinet’s earnings miss on November 2, Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ:PANW) declined over 2% in sympathy. However, the business performance of the two cybersecurity companies couldn’t be more stark. Indeed, the selloff is an opportunity to load up on one of the best cybersecurity stocks.
As its fiscal fourth quarter results showed, PANW is seeing strong customer demand. While Fortinet missed and guided lower, Palo Alto Networks delivered revenue of $2.0 billion, representing 26% year-over-year (YOY) growth. Non-GAAP EPS was $1.44, exceeding estimates by $0.15.
Management’s outlook for Q1 fiscal year 2024 was even more impressive. The company expects 16% and 18% revenue growth. Furthermore, management expects significant operating leverage. As a result, they forecasted non-GAAP net income per share to come in between $1.15 to $1.17. This range represents 39% to 41% YOY growth.
Palo Alto Networks is a leader in the secure access service edge (SASE) market. According to Gartner, its Prisma SASE solution is the best in terms of completion of vision and execution. As more customers move to the cloud, this cybersecurity company will have increased demand.
Besides its SASE leadership, the company offers a comprehensive security solution. As organizations optimize costs and consolidate vendors, Palo Alto will grow more. Wall Street analysts rate the stock a strong buy and see over 15% upside from current levels.
CrowdStrike (NASDAQ:CRWD) is a pure cloud-native cybersecurity platform. Through its Falcon Platform, it offers endpoint and cloud workload protection for enterprises.
Over the past five years, it has achieved a revenue compounded annual growth rate of 79%. Revenues grew 66% and 54% in FY2022 and FY2023, respectively. Despite the shaky macroeconomic conditions, this cloud-native cybersecurity stock is still delivering. In the latest quarter, revenues rose 36.7% YOY. It ended Q2 FY2024 with $2.93 billion in annual recurring revenue, representing 37% growth.
CRWD’s forward guidance was even more impressive. It raised the low end of its FY2024 guidance. Now, it expects revenues in the range of $3.03 to $3.04 billion. Based on the guidance, the firm will hit at least 35% growth in FY2024. Additionally, management expects free cash flow margins of over 30%.
Finally, CRWD has launched new products in identity and logscale. And at their September Fal.Con event, management set a target of $10 billion in annual recurring revenue in 5 to 7 years. Considering the impressive revenue growth that lies ahead, CrowdStrike should be a core security holding.
Recently, Jeffries upgraded Zscaler (NASDAQ:ZS) by increasing the price target from $170 to $225. They noted that the company was best positioned for the distributed and cloud-based world. The new target presents over 30% upside.
Operating in the SASE market, the sector growth will be a significant driver for the stock. Gartner estimates the SASE market will increase at a 29% CAGR over the next five years. And, it will reach a $25 billion total addressable market by 2027.
Another tailwind is the increasing government investment in digital defense. Zscaler is a leading provider of various zero-trust architectures. Its Zscaler Internet Access (ZIA) and Zscaler Private Access (ZPA) solutions already have Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) authorization.
As a result, the company has successfully won contracts from various federal agencies. CEO Jay Chaudry highlighted one example in the recent Q4 2023 earnings call.
“We were awarded a multiyear contract from an agency with more than 100,000 users. The value of this contract will be realized over time based on deployment with the field units,” he noted.
Finally, Zscaler’s zero-trust solutions, which include ZIA, ZPA and ZDX, provide comprehensive user, data, and workload protection. Given the robustness of its zero-trust architecture, the company will win more business from government agencies and companies worldwide.
On the date of publication, Charles Munyi did not hold (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.