Why FireEye Could Outperform Other Cybersecurity Leaders

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FireEye Inc. (NASDAQ: FEYE) recently was given the nod by the giant investment bank Goldman Sachs as perhaps the best cybersecurity stock out there. FireEye might have found itself in just the right place at the right time as cybersecurity is one of the biggest growing concerns in the world today. Although FireEye has underperformed the broad markets since mid-2015 when the stock was near $50 per share, the outlook for this cybersecurity firm has never been brighter.

It’s worth noting that FireEye has received two major analyst upgrades in less than a week. This stock is down significantly over the past year, but the picture is far worse from the high of the past two years and the past five years.

In a report released Thursday, Goldman Sachs upgraded FireEye to a Buy rating from Sell and raised its price target to $15 from $10, implying some 30% upside. A similar call was made earlier in the week by Merrill Lynch, when it raised its rating to Buy from Neutral, but its target was even more aggressive at $18.

Goldman Sachs believes the stock offers a unique buying opportunity, with significant upside potential over the next two years. It also cited ultra-low street expectations, a low valuation and a plethora of new solutions and a recent sales leadership refresh.

In its report from earlier this week, Merrill Lynch said:

FireEye’s core value proposition is centered around having some of the most advanced threat intelligence that lends its value to three areas of innovation: dealing with network threats, strong position in endpoint protection and above all is the value of analytics and threat management. In addition, FireEye’s incident response and remediation service both stand on its own merits, yet also helps source new solution sales. We identify three key drivers for growth, serving as potential catalysts for the stock: There are 6000 appliances that are due a refresh, representing $200 million of market opportunity. New products: cloud MVX, Smart grid, Helix, enhancements to FireEye-as-a-Service and the next gen endpoints. Third, improvements to its go-to-market, recently adding new sales leadership, removing sales capacity constraints, and substantially reducing the channel partner conflict. We think the Street largely ignores management’s guidance for growth resumption in the second half of 2017, which is an opportunity for a positive surprise.

What investors should consider is that FireEye has a bad history of late when it comes to execution. Maybe the new initiatives will help, but sometimes it can take a long time to recapture investor confidence. Another consideration is that there are enough cybersecurity players out there that a win by one company often comes at the direct expense or loss of a rival.

Although, looking at FireEye’s rivals, most have outperformed the firm in just 2017. But as Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs believe, FireEye’s value has yet to be unlocked and its modest run so far could be just the beginning of its rally.

FireEye closed Friday at $12.28, with a consensus analyst price target of $13.96 and a 52-week trading range of $10.35 to $18.73. Over the course of the week, the stock was up 14%.