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Why Palo Alto Networks, Inc. Might Keep Popping

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While Fools should generally take the opinion of Wall Street with a grain of salt, it's not a bad idea to take a closer look at particularly stock-shaking upgrades and downgrades -- just in case their reasoning behind the call makes sense.

What: Shares of Palo Alto Networks, Inc.  (NYSE: PANW  ) climbed more than 2% this morning after Wells Fargo upgraded the network security technologist from market perform to outperform.

So what: Along with the upgrade, analyst Gray Powell boosted his price target to $75-$81 (from $53-$56), representing as much as 36% worth of upside to Friday's close. While value investors might be turned off by the stock's sharp rebound in recent months, Powell thinks there's more room to bounce given his view that Palo Alto's legal battle with Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR  ) doesn't pose too much of a potential hit.

Now what: According to Wells, Palo Alto's risk/reward trade-off is pretty attractive at this point. "While the JNPR litigation has the potential to create volatility and drag on for months or years, after talking with a patent attorney, we are fairly confident that in a reasonably bad case scenario, PANW would only pay about a $45MM 1x settlement and a 4% royalty fee going forward," noted Powell. "In this event, PANW would still trade at only 20x 2015E FCF -- which we think is an attractive multiple for a company with 30%+ revenue growth in the security space." With Palo Alto shares up about 40% over just the past three months, however, I'd wait for some of the excitement to fade before buying into that bullishness.

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Brian Pacampara

I take a look at big 10% moves, as well as stock-shaking analyst calls, on a daily basis for The Fool. While I don't believe in active trading, closely monitoring Mr. Market's mood swings can help identify long-term opportunities.

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Related Tickers

9/4/2015 4:02 PM
JNPR $25.06 Down -0.21 -0.83%
Juniper Networks,… CAPS Rating: **
PANW $162.39 Up +0.35 +0.22%
Palo Alto Networks CAPS Rating: ***