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Palo Alto Networks Climbs as Forecast Is Raised and Analysts Give Praise

Palo Alto Networks 'pulled the rabbit out of the hat' in its fiscal third quarter, says an analyst.
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Palo Alto Networks  (PANW)  was advancing Friday after the cybersecurity platform beat Wall Street's earnings expectations and raised its forecast, prompting several analysts to reiterate their support for the company.

Shares of Santa Clara, Calif., company were rising 6% to $363.20 in premarket trading.

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Palo Alto Networks topped earnings estimates and raised guidance , reporting fiscal third-quarter revenue of $1.1 billion and non-GAAP net income of $1.39 a share.

Nikesh Arora, chairman and CEO, told TheStreet's Jim Cramer on Thursday's "Mad Money" program that the work-from-home trend was "here to stay" and Palo Alto was seeing a big uplift in their remote security products.

Customers now expect the same level of security they have in the office no matter where they are, the Palo Alto CEO told Cramer.

Deutsche Bank analysts, who have a buy rating on the stock, raised their price target to $410 from $395, declaring Palo Alto Networks "pulled the rabbit out of the hat in 3Q." 

Given this quarter's results, the firm said, "the step-up between Q3/Q4 now looks more achievable, and the likelihood of a miss to FY21 ARR (annual recurring revenue) looks diminished, in our view."

"PANW delivered a robust quarter and gave healthy guidance as it appears the company's cloud driven strategy is resonating increasingly well with cyber security customers in the field," said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, who maintained his outperform rating and $450 price target. 

The analyst said the recent SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline hacks are "adding to incremental deal flow and pipeline opportunities in the field and translating to the white hot growth that cyber security players are seeing across the board with bellwethers like Palo Alto front and center."

Ives added that he believes "this is a cloud cyber security re-rating story in motion and view Palo Alto's stock as having a strong upward trajectory over the next year as the Street starts to fully appreciate the cloud transformation playing out."

J.P. Morgan analyst Sterling Auty boosted his price target to $350 from $317, while keeping an underweight rating, following the "solid beat" in fiscal Q3. 

Auty said that even though the next-generation security annual recurring revenue was a bit below expectations, the reiteration of the full-year target combined with another solid quarter in the legacy side of the business is being well received.