2 Cybersecurity Stocks at Technical Milestones After Analyst Notes

PANW stock could benefit from more short covering

Jan 18, 2018 at 10:23 AM
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Cybersecurity stocks had a strong start to the year amid news of security flaws in Intel chips. And while Next-Generation Firewall parent Palo Alto Networks Inc (NYSE:PANW) has extended this momentum, Norton antivirus maker Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ:SYMC) has faltered. These trends are continuing today following a fresh round of analyst attention. Here's a closer look at how shares of PANW and SYMC are reacting.

Evercore ISI Upgrade Palo Alto Networks Stock

Evercore ISI upgraded Palo Alto Networks stock to "outperform" from "in line," and raised its price target to $180 from $150 -- a 16.7% premium to last night's close, and territory not charted since December 2015 -- saying the company has "room to flourish in multiple theaters." As a result, PANW stock has shot 2.2% higher to trade at $157.58, earlier hitting a new annual high of $158.78.

More broadly, the stock has been chopping higher since skimming two-year low territory near $107.30 in April -- thanks in part to a pair of post-earnings bull gaps. Overall, the shares are up almost 47% since then, and have added over 8% year-to-date.

Should this upside continue, a continued capitulation from some of the weaker bearish hands could help keep the wind at PANW's back. While short interest fell 10% in the two most recent reporting periods, it would still take more than seven sessions to cover the remaining bearish bets, at the stock's average pace of trading.

Jefferies Downgrades Symantec Stock

Jefferies downgraded Symantec stock to "underperform" from "hold," and slashed its price target by $7 to $23, saying the company's fourth-quarter growth forecast seems unachievable. In reaction, SYMC shares have plunged 3.4% to trade at $26.58, tagging a new 12-month low of $25.65 out of the gate.

Since topping out at a record high of $34.20 in late September, the security has surrendered 22.3% -- and breached long-term support at its 200-day moving average in the process. SYMC is now staring at a 4.8% year-to-date deficit, and is on track for its third straight daily loss.

Not surprisingly, most analysts are already skeptical toward SYMC shares, with 15 of 19 maintaining a "hold" or worse rating. However, the average 12-month price target of $32.08 stands at a lofty 20% premium to Symantec's current price, suggesting more bearish brokerage notes could come down the pike.


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