Weak Q3 Forecast Pours Cold Water on PANW Rally

No less than 11 analysts lifted their price targets

Deputy Editor
Feb 23, 2021 at 10:18 AM
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The shares of cyber security service provider Paolo Alto Networks Inc (NYSE:PANW) are sinking this morning, even after the company reported a strong fiscal second-quarter earnings and revenue beat. Its current-quarter outlook fell short of expectations, however, and at last check, PANW is down 4.9% at $366.06. 

This negative price action hasn't deterred analysts. No  less than 11 covering the security have lifted their price targets this morning. BMO, which raised its estimate to $455 from $400 also upgraded the stock to "outperform" from "market perform," citing attractive valuation and calling Paolo Alto Networks well-positioned for market growth. 

The brokerage bunch was already optimistic on the stock coming into today, with 24 of the 28 in coverage calling it "buy" or better. Meanwhile, the $430.06 12-month consensus price target stood at a 13.6% premium to last night's close. 

Options players, on the other hand, have rarely been more bearish. While calls are still outpacing puts overall, PANW sports a 50-day call/put volume ratio of 0.97 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), which stands higher than all but 1% of reading from the past year. 

Some of these bears may have been anticipating a pullback for PANW, which briefly toppled the elusive $400 mark to hit an all time high of $403 last Friday, Feb. 19. A longer term look at PANW's technical setup shows the equity consolidating under $370 level in late December and early January, though underlying support at its 50-day moving average launched the stock well past this level by February. And despite this week's pullback, Paolo Alto Networks stock boasts an impressive 50.6% year-over-year return. 


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