The cyber security market could be worth as much $170 billion by 2020, up from around $100 billion this year. But there are many different sorts of cyber security products. Some, including firewalls and antivirus software, are well-established. Others are less proven, yet experiencing rapid growth.
FireEye (NASDAQ:FEYE) dominates one such market. When it comes to the demand for specialized threat analysis and protection (STAP), FireEye's solutions lead the pack. According to research firm IDC, FireEye captured 37.9% of the STAP market in 2014. Its closest competitor, Lancope, accounted for just 5.4%.
Competition has long been seen as a major threat to FireEye's business, as rivals including Palo Alto Networks (NYSE:PANW) aggressively enter the space. FireEye's continued control of the market, however, suggests that those threats may be overstated.
STAP demand more than doubled last year
As a percentage of total cyber security spending, STAP remains a relatively small market, but it's growing rapidly. Spending on STAP products totaled $930 million in 2014 according to IDC, but that was up more than 126% from 2013. IDC believes the market will continue to grow in the years ahead, and will swell to around $3 billion in 2019. If FireEye can maintain its share of the market, it could be generating revenue from its STAP products in excess of $1.1 billion in 2019, up from around $350 million last year.
Still, FireEye has lost some ground. In 2013, it accounted for 43.1% of the STAP market. IDC cited increased competition for the modest decline, noting Palo Alto Networks in particular.
Demand for WildFire is growing
Palo Alto's WildFire is an STAP solution similar to FireEye's threat analytics platform, a sandbox service that runs potential malware in a controlled environment. WildFire isn't Palo Alto's core product, but demand for it is growing rapidly. Last quarter, Palo Alto Networks had more than 8,000 WildFire customers, including half the members of the Fortune 100, up from just 5,000 last January.
Palo Alto has continued to improve WildFire. Earlier this year, it formed a strategic alliance with Tanium, combining Tanium's end-point solutions with its WildFire platform. On Palo Alto's most recent earnings call, CEO Mark McLaughlin said the partnership was going "very well" and that it's producing great feedback from the company's customers. In the past, McLaughlin has identified FireEye as WildFire's biggest competitor, but has argued that his company is offering the superior solution.
FireEye remains a volatile stock
IDC's data is nearly a year old, and given the rapid growth going on the industry, may be outdated. Still, it should be seen as a positive sign for FireEye, which has been badly ravaged in 2015. Year-to-date, shares are down more than 30%, and upwards of 60% in the last six months alone. A series of management departures, including the loss of the company's CFO, has taken a toll. Poor earnings reports have also been a factor, with revenue falling short of analyst estimates.
FireEye isn't a profitable firm, but at current levels, may offer something of a bargain for investors interested in a growth stock. It currently trades with a price-to-sales ratio near 5.6, far less than Palo Alto Networks, at 14.70. If the STAP market continues to expand, FireEye could reward shareholders in the years to come.