Why Merrill Lynch Sees 50% Upside in FireEye After Major Sell-Off

Cybersecurity is one of the main concerns in the world today, whether it is protecting vital information from being hacked or preventing foreign interference with domestic elections. One would think business would be booming for these cybersecurity stocks but they have lagged the market. FireEye Inc. (NASDAQ: FEYE) has long underperformed the broad markets, with the stock down significantly over the past year. However one key analyst sees the winds changing for this cyber stock.

Merrill Lynch upgraded FireEye to a Buy rating from Neutral and raised its price target to $18.00 from $13.50, implying an upside of 68% from Friday’s closing price of $10.73. The firm basically said that any sign of growth and profitability could lift up the share price significantly.

The brokerage firm believes the stock offers a unique buying opportunity, with significant upside potential over the next two years, given a combination of ultra-low expectations, low valuation, a plethora of new solutions and recent sales leadership refresh.

Ultimately Merrill Lynch thinks the Wall Street underappreciates the quality of FireEye’s management, its recovery strategy and most important, the quality of its technology and solutions that could drive growth in the second half of 2017.

Management has addressed FireEye’s Achilles’ heel (price premium) in multiple ways. First, it expanded the portfolio to address cloud migration, added virtual solutions, small appliances, security-as-a-service and a bundled offering dubbed Helix that has a 30% to 50% inherent price reduction. It has also changed the business model from product sales to recurring revenue, helping the visibility and stability of the revenue stream and reduced the conflicts with the channel partners as noted.

In its report, Merrill Lynch detailed:

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.

Shares of FireEye were last seen up about 9% at $11.69 on Monday, with a consensus analyst price target of $13.77 and a 52-week trading range of $10.35 to $19.17.

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