Earlier in the session the stock was showing relative strength in such a weak tape.
It helps when it receives not one but two big upgrades. Analysts at BMO upgraded the stock to outperform from market perform and slapped a $240 price target on the stock. The new target is up from the previous $205 target and implies almost 20% upside from current levels.
In their note, the analysts wrote, "We think PANW's valuation is attractive relative to its growth potential, as compared to other security software companies, as well as the broader software universe." Analysts also downgraded Fortinet (FTNT) - Get Report .
UBS went a step further, boosting its price target from $232 to $250 and upgrading the name to a buy rating in the process. UBS' new price target implies about 23% upside from Friday's close.
While earnings season is just getting underway, Palo Alto won't report its quarterly results until late February. However, unlike most companies, estimates for this quarter and for the full year continue to trend higher. Current estimates call for earnings per share of $1.22 per share this quarter, up from $1.20 60 days ago, and for $5.18 per share for the full year, up from $5.03 60 days ago.
Finally, Palo Alto Networks is a holding in the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio. In the group's recent monthly call with subscribers, Jim Cramer said:
"Remember the Equifax (EFX) - Get Report hack? Or the WannaCry that struck last year? I've had two hacks on my credit cards, two, in the last 18 months. These are the examples illustrating the absolute necessity for companies to invest in software security. Add in our view of the growth of the Cloud and you've got a good understanding of why we own Palo Alto."
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Trading Palo Alto Networks Stock
Shares are doing a great job consolidating over the 200-day moving average, just what the bulls want to see. That said, PANW stock is up big from its recent lows, rallying about 20.5% from its December lows and about 28% from its November lows.
Worth noting is that Palo Alto reported earnings in late-November, helping to jumpstart the stock after its large decline. Keep in mind, shares were down almost 33% in just over two months prior to that report.
In any regard, where are we now? I mostly want to see shares of PANW hold up over this $190 to $195 level (the blue box on the chart). If that level fails as support, look for support from the 50-day moving average and uptrend support (black line).
If Palo Alto Networks stock can rally, look to see how it handles the $216 to $220 level. This level may first act as resistance, but if it gives way, look for a possible rally back up to the September highs.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author had no positions in the stocks mentioned.