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Why Palo Alto Networks Inc. Shares Plunged

By Brian D. Pacampara, CFA - Feb 18, 2016 at 4:16PM

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A Wall Street analyst thinks the cybersecurity technologist could be in for a tough quarter.

What: Shares of cybersecurity technologist Palo Alto Networks (PANW -0.07%) sank as low as 10.9% on Thursday after JMP Securities offered a cautious note on the stock.

So what: Palo Alto has rallied over the past few days on optimism heading into earnings next week, but JMP's reseller checks -- indicating "more rushed than usual" shipping activity, as well as "a challenging sales environment" -- are quickly dampening that bullishness. Of course, just two days ago, D.A. Davidson called Palo Alto a "best-of-breed" software security play and upgraded the stock with a $186 price target, so Fools would do well to take JMP's short-term-oriented call with a grain of salt.

Now what: Palo Alto is set to report earnings on Feb. 25, and as my colleague Steve Symington noted earlier this month, management has a propensity for topping expectations. And while JMP also lowered its price target on Palo Alto from $220 to $165, the firm does believe that overall sales momentum remains strong. In other words, investors should just wait patiently until next Thursday to see how the business is really performing. 

Brian Pacampara has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Palo Alto Networks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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