FireEye Inc Surges After Upgrade

FireEye shares rallied big time today after hitting their 52-week low on Monday amid broad-based concerns about the cyber-security space. However, Citi analysts are bullish on FireEye following their recent survey of chief information security officers (CISOs) at some of the world’s biggest firms.

Shares of FireEye surged during regular trading hours today, climbing by as much as 8.32% to $51.87 per share.

CISOs to up cyber-security spending

Analysts Walter Pritchard and James Fish and their team said they upgraded FireEye to Buy and raised their price target from $31 to $35 per share in their report dated Dec. 7. They surveyed 51 chief information security officers and found that most indicated plans to accelerate spending on cyber-security next year, even coming off a strong 2015 for the cyber-security space. In fact, they say CISOs’ budgets are better than they had been expecting.


The Citi team said they don’t see any signs of a “mean reversion” in cyber-security spending but instead found that on average, CISOs plan to increase their budgets in this area by about 8% next year compared to this year’s 5% increase. They expect network spend to again outpace spending at the end points as spending on software and cyber-security personnel outgrow spending on hardware.


The top reasons CISOs are giving for their bigger cyber-security budgets this year involve beefing up defense:


FireEye shows “exceptional strength”

In their survey, they found that “market challengers,” including FireEye, Splunk, Imperva and Palo Alto Networks. They said FireEye demonstrated “exceptional strength” in their survey.


They added that they’re still seeing signs that the strongest trends in firewall refreshes are now in the past, although they noted that data from the survey they conducted in the first half of this year suggested something similar even though right now there is no evidence of a significant slowdown in this area.

In terms of legacy cyber-security vendors, they said Cisco Systems continues to perform well, as it always does. Also Microsoft did well in their survey.


CISOs not pressured to consolidate

The Citi team that CISOs are actually moving away from consolidating their technology by simplifying the architecture of their security. Platforms that would have been favored through consolidations, including Symantec, Check Point Software Technologies, and Fortinet, did not perform as well in their survey. Instead, they found that point tools in every area except App-Control and IPS are being favored.


At the endpoint, CISOs are focused more on consolidation even though the number of products that are in their cyber-security environments is rising. The Citi team believes FireEye and other network players getting into endpoints, especially Palo Alto Networks, could be beneficiaries of this trend.


Why Citi upgraded FireEye

The Citi team gave three main reasons for upgrading FireEye. First, they said security is showing signs that the company “is too strong to ignore.” Further, they think the cyber-security firm’s numbers are “mostly safe” and that its valuation offers a “favorable” risk – reward profile. And finally, they say sentiment on FireEye is particularly negative compared to its security peers.

All graphs and charts in this article are courtesy Citi.