Shares of Fortinet (FTNT 0.44%) rose 28.6% during the first half of 2020, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The cybersecurity company was helped by the work-from-home environment, as enterprises sought to secure their communications from the threat of increased attacks seeking to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only that, but Fortinet delivered a first quarter earnings report in May that handily beat expectations, after introducing a noteworthy new firewall product.
Fortinet's first-quarter earnings release was positive, with the company growing revenue 22.1%, and adjusted earnings per share rose $0.60, beating expectations. Just weeks earlier, Fortinet introduced its FortiGate 4200F firewall, using its own custom in-house processor tailor-made for virtual private networks. According to Fortinet, the seventh-generation network processor can deliver between five and 15 times the speed of other security firewalls that use more generic CPUs.
The new product is well suited for today's work-from-home environment. In addition, Fortinet has generally been able to successfully transition from hardware-based firewalls to today's more software-based cloud security solutions rather well -- an impressive feat amid a slew of new competitors. Fortinet's operational success, revealed in its positive earnings report, helped it have a big May, leading to its rebound from the March sell-off.
After Fortinet's solid run in the first half, some analysts are skeptical about further gains. The company has an extremely wide range of price targets, from $91 to $178.84, compared with today's price of $146.35. While Fortinet is a leading player in cybersecurity, a technology segment should get a continued boost from COVID-19, the stock is also trading at nearly 50 times next year's earnings estimates. For a $22 billion market cap company "only" growing in the 20% range, that's pretty expensive. As such, it may be best to monitor this well-positioned stock in cases it undergoes any large pullbacks after its big first-half run.