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.