3 Top Under-the-Radar Security Stocks

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Mention security and big-name firms such as Symantec ( SYMC) and McAfee, now part of Intel ( INTC), spring to mind.

Investors, though, would be wise to check out under-the-radar stocks such as Wave Systems ( WAVX), Sourcefire ( FIRE) and Fortinet ( FTNT) that are also riding the cyber security wave.
There are plenty of under-the-radar stocks riding the cybersecurity wave.

The appropriately-named Wave Systems, for example, has been winning plaudits for merging hardware and software encryption, while Sourcefire has reaped the benefits of Washington's cybersecurity spending.

Fortinet, for its part, continues to enjoy success with its FortiGate appliance, a sort of cyber security Swiss army knife for corporate IT departments. "I think Fortinet is a great stock," said Bryan Ashenberg, TheStreet's Breakout Stocks portfolio manager, highlighting the firm's ongoing market share gains.

Read on for more details on tech's under-the-radar security stocks:

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Wave Systems

Market cap: $184.85 million

Although hardly a household name, Wave Systems has earned an impressive reputation on the strength of its hardware-based security technology. The Lee, Mass.-based firm builds security management software that runs on pieces of silicon called Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs) that are embedded within PCs.

"Wave is always worth a second look," explained Roger Kay, president of analyst firm Endpoint Technologies. "The company has been selling security suite software for the Trusted Platform Module for years and, last I looked, it was slowly building a good portfolio of OEM customers like Dell ( DELL)."

The combination of Wave Systems's software and TPMs can be used to encrypt the PC or laptop, and can also signal the presence of malware or viruses lurking on the device. Storing encryption keys on the PC itself also removes the need for tokens and smartcards.

With TPMs already deployed within half a billion PCs, there's clearly a huge market opportunity for Wave Systems. In addition to Dell, the company has racked up a number of other big-name customers, including Hitachi and Seagate ( STX), which uses its technology for hard drive encryption.

Korean consumer tech behemoth Samsung has also thrown its considerable weight behind hardware-based encryption, recently announcing plans to deploy a customized version of Wave's software. Last month, Wave also unveiled a deal with IT distribution giant Ingram Micro ( IM) for its software technology.

The security specialist is also working hard to expand its global footprint, particularly in areas such as Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), where it already works with chemical giant BASF and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Wave, which competes with Symantec ( SYMC) and VeriSign ( VRSN), has been enjoying solid sales growth, with revenue climbing 42% year-over-year in its recent third-quarter results. Profits, however, have not matched topline growth, and the company's loss widened as it continued to ramp up sales, marketing and R&D efforts.

Set against this backdrop, Wave's stock has tumbled more than 46% this year, closing Wednesday at $2.16, although this could present a buying opportunity. With the Samsung deal, for example, expected to drive growth, Wave could offers a cheap entry point into booming market.

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Sourcefire

Market cap: $979.11 million

One of TheStreet's Breakout Stocks, Sourcefire's profile continues to rise following the recent spate of high-profile cybersecurity attacks against the likes of Lockheed Martin ( LM) and Sony ( SNE).

The network security specialist, which competes with Cisco ( CSCO), recently reported record third-quarter revenue, noting broad strength across its business. This included an uptick in federal spending as the U.S. government closed out its fiscal year. Weakness in this business had weighed on Sourcefire's numbers earlier in the year, so investors welcomed the government's spending flush.

Sourcefire's stock has risen more than 29% this year, closing Wednesday at $33.60.

TheStreet Ratings rates Sourcefire a 'buy'. With demand for high-performance security technology increasing, the company's growth engine looks robust, according to the research, and Sourcefire offers investors plenty of upside.

"We continue to see a positive growth outlook for the network security segment," added Todd Weller, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, in a recent note. "We also continue to believe that the 2012 set up for Sourcefire could be interesting given what we view to be stability in its Fed government business, potential product cycle benefits, and a return of some level of margin expansion."

Sourcefire's recently unveiled next-generation firewall, in particular, looks set to be a growth catalyst for the company. By combining a firewall with its Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) technology for identifying cyber threats, Sourcefire has shrewdly tapped into growing enterprise security concerns.

The Columbia, Md.-based company was added to TheStreet's Breakout Stocks portfolio earlier this year, underlining its potential. Bryan Ashenberg, Breakout Stocks portfolio manager, also notes that this corner of the market is getting hotter following the recent decision by Blue Coat Systems ( BCSI) to sell itself to an investor group led by private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

Sourcefire itself has been touted as attractive acquisition bait, and has already been a target for Barracuda Networks and Israeli company Check Point ( CHKP) although the latter possibility faced intense political opposition.

With Sourcefire's Snort intrusion detection technology widely used in the U.S. intelligence community, Washington lawmakers cited national security concerns about a possible sale.

Even if another round of M&A chatter fails to materialize, investors should still expect good things from Sourcefire in 2012.

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Fortinet

Market cap: $3.42 billion

Another of TheStreet's Breakout Stocks, Fortinet is the leader in an emerging area known as Unified Threat Management (UTM). The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm touts its FortiGate appliance as a sort of security "god-box" combining firewall, anti-virus, VPN and intrusion prevention systems.

"We continue to believe Fortinet is expanding its market-share position while enhancing its position as a network security pure play," explained Bryan Ashenberg, Breakout Stocks portfolio manager. "The company derives more than half of its revenue from its high-margin, subscription business."

Last month, TheStreet Ratings also upgraded Fortinet from hold to buy, citing the company's robust revenue growth, solid financial position, reasonable debt levels and stock performance.

In October, Fortinet put out record third-quarter results, with revenue climbing 37% year-over-year. Excluding items, the company also grew its earnings from 9 cents a share to 13 cents a share over the same period.

Although not as well known as rivals Check Point and Cisco, Fortinet's story is resonating with investors. The company's stock has risen 37% this year, compared to a more modest gain of nearly 13% for Check Point and a loss of 11% for Cisco.

With Fortinet closing Wednesday at $22.16, however, there have been concerns about the stock's valuation, although experts still see plenty of upside ahead.

"The company continues to have its foot down on the accelerator with respect to investing to take advantage of growth opportunities," explained Stifel Nicolaus' Weller, in a recent note. "The company is making progress in improving the performance of its Europe, Middle East and Africa EMEA business and continues to heavily focus on increasing its penetration into the enterprise market."

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jamesjrogers.

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