Fortinet and rival cybersecurity stocks dip on spending worries

Investors are selling off cybersecurity stocks on compounded fears of slowing client spending in an uncertain economy.

After announcing a dismal forecast, Fortinet’s share price sank nearly 18% and sparked a selloff in other cybersecurity stocks. The current losses, if they hold, were set to wipe out nearly $8 billion from the company's market value.

Rivals Palo Alto, ZScaler, and CrowdStrike fell between 0.6% and 2.6%.

Fortinet cut its annual revenue target on Thursday and said it expects current-quarter sales between $1.38 billion and $1.44 billion, below estimates of $1.50 billion, LSEG data showed.

“We thought sentiment reflected an expectation for a miss/guide down, but the magnitude was even worse than our bogeys,” said Raymond James analysts.

Competition in the sector has been intensifying as clients seek companies that serve as a one-stop shop for all cybersecurity needs, weighing on the growth of smaller players and boosting sales at the likes of Palo Alto.

Fortinet continues “to see increased deal scrutiny and longer sales cycles, which is constraining near-term results,” CFO Keith Jensen said on Thursday.

Growth is also slowing in some parts of the company's business as demand normalizes after two years of rapid gains during the pandemic.

“This was a debacle quarter for Fortinet,” Wedbush analysts said. “It's a head-scratcher how weak things got at Fortinet.”

Overall, eight brokerages downgraded the company, and at least 18 analysts cut their price targets, pushing the median to $59, LSEG data showed.

Fortinet share currently trades at nearly 33 times its 12-month forward earnings estimates, compared with Palo Alto's 44.6 and CrowdStrike's 54.5.

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