What happened

Shares of cybersecurity specialist CrowdStrike (NASDAQ:CRWD) -- the company credited with uncovering alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee servers in the last presidential election -- tumbled nearly 10% in early trading Monday before recovering just a bit. The stock was down 9.5% as of 12:50 p.m. EDT.

Yes, you can blame Citigroup for that.

Tumbling dice read Buy and Sell

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

So what happened to CrowdStrike this morning, and what was Citigroup's role? In a nutshell, Citi played the hatchet man, initiating coverage of CrowdStrike stock with a "sell" rating today, and a $43 price target. This came on the same day that it initiated coverage of another security specialist -- Ping Identity Holding (NYSE:PING), whose initial public offering Citi underwrote last month -- at "buy."

The problem with CrowdStrike, said Citi in a note covered today by TheFly.com, is that it's focused on the "end-point security market," where no one single player seems to be able to capture more than 10% of the market share -- putting a ceiling on CrowdStrike's own ability to grow there. Granted, CrowdStrike could try to expand into other security markets. But Citi warns that this could be difficult because those other markets "are crowded already."

Now what

Instead of CrowdStrike, Citi is urging investors to consider investing in its favored IPO, Ping Identity, instead -- or perhaps Okta (NASDAQ:OKTA), another stock the analyst likes.

With this endorsement in hand, Ping stock is up 2.2% today. Okta stock isn't -- but, down just a fraction of 1%, it's at least doing better than CrowdStrike. It's worth pointing out, however, that while all three of these cybersecurity companies are growing sales briskly, not one of them is currently profitable, nor expected to become so for at least another couple of years.

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.