The novel coronavirus pandemic sent the stock market packing in March as investors went into panic-selling mode fearing the economic fallout COVID-19 may cause. Top cybersecurity stocks weren't spared from the sell-off.
In fact, cybersecurity stocks fell harder than the broad market in March thanks to their rich valuations. This is why now may be a good time for investors looking to add a cybersecurity play to their portfolio to make their move. After all, demand for cybersecurity solutions should actually increase as shelter-in-place orders across the globe leave remote employees vulnerable to bad actors.
Check Point proves its mettle with a robust report
Check Point's first-quarter results breezed past Wall Street's expectations thanks to an increase in demand for remote network security solutions. CEO Gil Shwed said, "We saw an increased demand for network security gateways in order to support higher capacities and expand the use of our remote access VPN solutions."
Shwed added that Check Point was able to sustain "elevated business activity levels" as its teams transitioned "almost exclusively" to a work-from-home model. Demand for the company's technical services increased by 20% during the quarter as customers ramped up their infrastructure to tackle the increase in demand caused by shelter-in-place orders, Shwed said on the latest earnings conference call.
The company's virtual private network (VPN) solutions are well positioned thanks to the jump in remote employment. One of Check Point's customers expanded the number of daily users employing its remote access solutions to 80,000 -- up from 8,000 previously. Check Point management also pointed out that its website has witnessed a seven-fold surge in traffic.
Thanks to these tailwinds, Check Point revenue increased 3% annually to $486.5 million during the quarter, beating the $480.8 million consensus estimate. The company's non-GAAP earnings also increased to $1.42 per share, up from $1.32 per share in the prior-year period.
Check Point saw a bump in demand for its cloud-specific solutions during the quarter, which led to a bump in its subscription business. Subscription revenue increased 10% year over year to $159 million, and the momentum is likely to continue as Check Point is seeing stronger interest in its cloud solutions. That's not surprising as the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated many companies' transitions to the cloud so they can work remotely, thereby creating the need for cloud-specific cybersecurity solutions.
Demand for Check Point's offerings should also improve long term as the novel coronavirus pandemic reshapes workplaces. But the company has decided to play it safe despite these potential tailwinds to its business -- Check Point management chose to withdraw its full-year guidance, citing the uncertainty the disease has brought to businesses around the globe.
However, that shouldn't be a reason for investors to panic as the company has a solid balance sheet that should help it sail through the novel coronavirus storm.
Well-prepared for near-term headwinds
Check Point Software's total cash balance stood at $4 billion as of March 31, and the company has no debt. This cash-rich balance sheet should see the company through any troubles COVID-19 may cause, and management can use this strong cash position to boost shareholder value through buybacks.
The company had expanded its share repurchase program by $2 billion in February. It bought back $325 million worth of shares last quarter, and it won't be surprising to see the company repurchase more shares in the coming quarters as it is currently trading at 19 times trailing earnings, below its five-year average price-to-earnings ratio of 22.3.
Between an attractive valuation, a robust balance sheet, and a business that looks capable of withstanding the pandemic, now is the time to go long on Check Point Software stock.