With more employees now working from home, cybersecurity has never been more crucial to the operations at many companies. Protecting proprietary computer information from outside attackers has become vital, and often requires outside assistance. The companies that excel at providing this assistance are in high demand, and that suggests a potential investment opportunity.
Today we are going to discuss three of these opportunities: Crowdstrike (CRWD -2.04%), Okta (OKTA -4.68%), and Cloudflare (NET -6.10%). All three of these cybersecurity experts have found a different niche when it comes to protecting data and taken a leadership position in the process. Let's find out a bit more about why they could be great long-haul investments.
Crowdstrike focuses on endpoint security -- protecting devices that users access the network with like laptops or phones. When an attack happens on one device being used by one company, information about the incident (and how to combat it) is sent to all other devices on the platform, including those at other companies. By doing this, Crowdstrike's attack resiliency grows stronger as more customers are added. It has been recognized by tech research and consulting firm Gartner as a leader in the cybersecurity space, further ahead than nearly all of its competitors.
Business has been booming for Crowdstrike. The company reported 70% second-quarter revenue growth year over year for the period ending in July. This drove its annual recurring revenue (ARR) to $1.34 billion. It also grew its customer base by 81%, creating opportunities to cross-sell its various services. Crowdstrike is guiding for 60% fiscal-year 2022 growth as it continues to widen its operations.
Okta's cybersecurity approach relies on a concept called zero trust. It protects who and how much a user can access on the network by assuming all users are potential security threats and compartmentalizing access. It maintains a verification process that is robust, but still relatively easy for legitimate users to work with. Making this process seamless for anyone who connects to the network from any location isn't easy, but Okta makes it possible. Gartner also named Okta a leader in access management, further adding to the validity of Okta's solutions.
Similar to Crowdstrike, Okta has been growing quickly. It reported year-over-year second-quarter fiscal 2022 revenue growth of 57% and predicts 50% fiscal-year 2022 growth. Okta and Crowdstrike bring in a similar amount of revenue, yet their stocks have followed somewhat different valuation trajectories. Okta stock currently trades at 30 times forward sales, while Crowdstrike is at 42. Both stocks are trading at a premium, but Okta has been a public company a couple of years longer than Crowdstrike and has developed a bit more, partially explaining the difference. As each continues to execute at a high level, this difference in valuation will likely even out because both companies have long growth paths ahead.
On a different side of cybersecurity is Cloudflare. It is on a mission "to build a better internet" and is focusing on providing secure servers to achieve its mission. This approach can help it combat distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. When a DDoS attack occurs, users trying to access a website cannot connect due to the server being overloaded. Cloudflare's solution to this challenge was compared against that of 11 other providers and was named a leader by consulting firm Forrester due to its success at repelling these cyberattacks. It also scored maximum points in 15 categories during its evaluation.
Cloudflare's third-quarter revenue grew at 51% year over year, and management projects $648 million fiscal-year revenue for this relatively younger company. Cloudflare is gaining a following like the other two and itslarge customers -- those who spend more than $100,000 annually -- grew 71% year over year in the latest quarter, exhibiting its strong client appeal.
Investors are obviously excited about Cloudflare, as the stock is priced at a staggering 105 times forward sales. As a result, Cloudflare is the biggest company by market cap of the three despite bringing in half the revenue. Expectations are high for Cloudflare; it must continue executing or it will likely suffer a serious stock price correction.
Over the last three years, this collection of stocks has been beating the Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500.
Cybersecurity stocks are being pushed by an undeniable growth trend. These three stocks are subscription-based companies, which will allow each to collect recurring revenue from clients and create some stability on the revenue side. Additionally, Crowdstrike, Okta, and Cloudflare are all leaders in their respective cybersecurity niches.
None of the companies are profitable, so valuation is a considerable risk and some stock price volatility is likely short-term. Buying any of these stocks and holding for many years will help navigate that volatility and help you attain the returns that growth-oriented investors aim for.