Top Picks 2016: Palo Alto Networks

01/11/2016 7:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Rob DeFrancesco

Founder, Tech-Stock Prospector

The data center market has become a significant growth driver for our Top Pick for speculative investors, explains growth stock investor Rob DeFrancesco, editor Tech-Stock Prospector.

Palo Alto Networks (PANW) is a cyber-security solutions vendor. Data center security use cases now represent nearly 40% of Palo Alto’s revenue.

In the Americas (representing 71% of total revenue), the datacenter business accounts for about half of revenue, vs. only 10% just 20 months ago, according to Todd Palmer, head of Palo Alto’s partner channel in the region. 

Palmer says datacenter security had been underserved for a long time, as organizations previously mainly focused on protecting their network perimeters.

However, once the perimeter gets breached, hackers usually head right for the datacenter because that’s where plenty of key assets reside.

Palo Alto has seen a lot of success in the datacenter with its PA-7050 next-generation firewall, taking market share from established vendors such as Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Check Point Software (CHKP).

Given Palo Alto’s strong revenue growth profile, the company will soon be looking at Check Point in the rearview mirror. The newly released PA-7080 is Palo Alto’s most powerful firewall, featuring performance of 200 Gbps.

With that advanced product now in the portfolio, Palo Alto may catch up to (and surpass) Check Point on a total revenue basis faster than expected.

For 2016, analysts on average look for Check Point’s revenue to grow 8% to $1.76 billion, while the fiscal 2017 (ending July) consensus revenue estimate for Palo Alto now stands at $1.77 billion (representing growth of 32.7%), with the Street-high estimate at $1.97 billion.

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