Internet Security Stocks Back in Favor


Just a couple of weeks ago, Internet security providers Check Point Software Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: CHKP) and Fortinet Inc. (NASDAQ: FTNT) reported weaker-than-expected third quarter results and lowered their fourth quarter forecasts. The two stocks, and competitor Sourcefire Inc. (NASDAQ: FIRE), tumbled.

Today, Sourcefire more than repaid the favor, reporting better-than-expected results for the third quarter and putting a charge back into the security stocks. Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE: PANW) just closed its third quarter yesterday, and is expected to post EPS of $0.03 on revenues of $83.7 million when it reports results in December.

Sourcefire even boosted its full-year guidance to adjusted EPS of $0.80 to $0.82, nicely above the consensus estimate of $0.76. Revenues were also forecast above the current consensus.

Over the past 12 months, Sourcefire's shares are up about 77%, far more than any of the other players, including Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ: SYMC), which grew about 13%. Palo Alto Networks, which came public in July, is up about 6%, Fortinet is down almost 11%, and Check Point is down about 20%.

Fortinet and Check Point both called out softness in the European market as a source of their lowered estimates. But Sourcefire's international revenues grew 69%. Sourcefire's U.S. government sales grew by just 4% in the quarter, and the looming cuts in federal spending could be a bigger problem for all these vendors than weak sales in Europe.

Sourcefire shares are up 12.8% at $48.25 in a 52-week range of $28.35 to $59.64.

Fortinet is up 4.5% at $20.25 in a 52-week range of $18.15 to $28.82.

Check Point is up 2% at $45.43 in a 52-week range of $40.60 to $65.00.

Palo Alto Networks is up 2.4% at $56.28 in a post-IPO range of $51.10 to $72.61.

Symantec is up 2.1% at $18.57 in a 52-week range of $13.06 to $19.54.

Paul Ausick

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Internet, Technology Companies Tagged: CHKP, featured, FIRE, FTNT, PANW, SYMC