What happened

Shares of data security specialist Fortinet (NASDAQ:FTNT) rose 12.3% in February 2017, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

So what

Let's have a look at Fortinet's stock chart for the month. I think it will clarify things very quickly:

FTNT Chart

FTNT data by YCharts.

Fortinet reported fourth-quarter earnings at the very start of last month, and it was a smashing success story. Both top-line sales and bottom-line earnings came in far ahead of analyst expectations, followed by a strong set of next-quarter and full-year guidance targets. Shares rose 13% overnight on the news, as investors were inspired by a classic beat-and-raise report.

Now what

Fortinet's strength is a wide-ranging product portfolio that covers security aspects of everything from the smartwatch on your wrist to the data center big-iron server that analyzes the fitness data your watch sends in -- and every point of the networks in between. The company calls it a security fabric, which offers stronger data protection than plugging in separate security tools for devices, networks, and servers.

Cloud security, conceptualized.

Image source: Getty Images.

This security model is a perfect fit for cloud computing and the Internet of Things, and Fortinet is enjoying the benefits of customers buying into that targeted sales pitch.

Investors can look back at market-beating returns of 22% so far in 2017, or 29% over the last 52 weeks. The stock isn't exactly cheap, trading at 204 times trailing earnings, but sometimes you get what you pay for. Fortinet is a quality business in a leadership position of a timely market, and it's often worth paying a premium for that combination.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.