Cybersecurity has been around for several years and will continue to be one of the fastest growing sectors. In addition to strong demand, these products command high margins. That’s why it’s time for investors to leave room for cybersecurity stocks in their portfolio.
Recent growth has been spurred by the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI). Unquestionably, AI is helping companies identify threats, but there are two players in the game of information security. And AI makes it easier for bad actors to introduce new threats. In fact, a McKinsey study finds that 60% of companies that are adopting AI realize that cybersecurity risks generated by AI are their most relevant ones.
There are many cybersecurity stocks for you to consider and many of these are likely to pay off if you have a long-term focus. But in this stock picker’s market, there’s still a benefit in looking for cybersecurity stocks you can profit from right now. Here are three choices for investors to consider heading into 2024.
Palo Alto Networks (PANW)
Source: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com
Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ:PANW) is largely recognized as the gold standard among cybersecurity stocks. But that comes at a price, and nobody will confuse PANW with being inexpensive. The stock has a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of over 105x. For comparison, that’s nearly 10 times larger than the average P/E of stocks in the Communications Services sector.
Further, PANW stock is up 57% in the last 12 months and over 92% in 2023. Considering that it’s almost December at the time of this writing, it’s been a great 11 months for PANW investors.
In its Nov. 2023 earnings report (the company’s fiscal first quarter), Palo Alto beat on the top and bottom lines. However, the company offered weaker-than-expected guidance based on customers looking for shorter contract lengths in addition to demands for financing and deferred billing plans. And frankly, this initially sent PANW stock lower. However, the stock has recovered and out of 45 analysts that have offered a rating in the last 12 months, 38 give the stock a strong buy or buy rating.
Cisco Systems (CSCO)
Source: Valeriya Zankovych / Shutterstock.com
In its most recent earnings report, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) told investors a similar story to Palo Alto Networks. To summarize, the company is seeing a slowdown in new orders. CSCO stock gapped down sharply after the earnings report but has stabilized since.
The company says the slowdown is due to customers taking time to onboard the new products that they ordered in the previous quarters. Unfortunately, this may still impact revenue and earnings for the next several quarters.
But that’s also where the opportunity lies. The current price of CSCO stock is right around where it was at this time in 2019. However, the company’s revenue and earnings are both approximately 25% higher than it was at that time. And unlike Palo Alto, Cisco looks like a value at just 13x forward earnings.
The current stock price is also not likely factoring in the company’s planned $28 billion acquisition of Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK) as well as future investments in AI. The balancing act earns the stock a spot on my list of cybersecurity picks for December
Source: T. Schneider / Shutterstock.com
One metric that many investors use to analyze stocks to buy is the number of analysts that upgrade the stock., and that’s a key reason that CrowdStrike (NASDAQ:CRWD) makes this list. In the last three months, 44 analysts have issued a rating on CrowdStrike and 32 of those analysts have upgraded the stock.
Unlike the other cybersecurity stocks on this list, CrowdStrike is not consistently profitable. However, in the last two quarters, the company has beat on revenue and earnings expectations. The year-over-year (YOY) growth in revenue is particularly impressive.
However, like Palo Alto, CrowdStrike isn’t flying under the radar. The stock is up over 100% in 2023. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t upside still ahead. One reason for optimism is the company’s Charlotte AI suite of AI tools that focuses on generative AI and addresses the sophisticated nature of current cyber-attacks. With promising new products for users, CrowdStrike makes my list.
On the date of publication, Chris Markoch 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.
Chris Markoch is a freelance financial copywriter who has been covering the market for over five years. He has been writing for InvestorPlace since 2019.
More From InvestorPlace
The post If You Can Only Buy One Cybersecurity Stock in December, It Better Be One of These 3 Names appeared first on InvestorPlace.