Why Palo Alto Networks Stock Outpaced the Market Today

What happened

The stock market wasn’t such a gloomy place on Wednesday for Palo Alto Networks (PANW -0.23%). Although the cybersecurity company’s stock fell marginally in price across the day, it still did notably better than many titles — the shares dipped by 0.2% while the broad S&P 500 index took a nearly 1.6% hit. Palo Alto benefited from a pair of new, bullish analyst takes. 

So what

The first of these hit the headlines just after market hours on Tuesday. Evercore ISI analyst Peter Levine bumped his price target higher on Palo Alto stock, raising it to $215 per share from the preceding $207. Compounding that, Levine reiterated his buy recommendation on the shares. 

This was followed on Monday morning by Scotiabank, which initiated coverage on the cybersecurity specialist’s shares. As with Evercore’s Levine, the Canadian bank was bullish on the company’s future, tagging it with an outperform (read: buy) recommendation. This isn’t as strong as Levine’s buy, as Scotiabank’s price target is a more modest $155 per share. 

Although cybersecurity stocks like Palo Alto have been caught in the bearish trap ensnaring tech titles over the past few months, as a segment they have done comparatively better. Investors realize that cybersecurity is a necessity and not a luxury in a dangerous world, and businesses need to devote funds and resources to good security regimes.

Now what

Yet that’s part of the problem. With inflation still hanging over the global economy and slowdowns anticipated by many pundits, more than a few of those businesses are trimming their budgets. One item to get cut, often, is cybersecurity. That’s likely a key reason why Palo Alto stock didn’t do better on that pair of bullish analyst takes.

Eric Volkman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Palo Alto Networks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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