High-Profile Hacks Create Security 'Spending Frenzy,' Analyst Says

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of IT security companies have recently rallied in the wake of three high profile security breaches. Research firm Piper Jaffray wrote in a note to investors today that the IT security space is "rapidly improving."

WHAT'S NOTABLE: IT security stocks have been rallying since the end of last month. The beginning of the advance coincided with a report by The New York Times that hackers had targeted JPMorgan (JPM)  and at least four other banks. Hackers were able to penetrate the computer networks of some banks and stole checking and savings account information from clients, The Times reported on August 28. However, The Wall Street Journal today reported that the FBI hasn't found any evidence to suggest that the incident involving JPMorgan hit any of the other big U.S. banks.

The recent unauthorized release of nude celebrity photos, which were reportedly obtained from Apple's (AAPL) iCloud system, has also caused concerns about cyber security to intensify and publicity about the issue to increase. Yesterday, Apple said none of the cases the company has investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone. Additionally, IT security blog Krebs on Security yesterday reported that banks believe that the numbers of many credit and debit cards may have been stolen from Home Depot  (HD) . The home improvement retailer confirmed that it was probing "some unusual activity," the blog reported.

ANALYST'S THOUGHTS: Demand for IT security products is continuing to "rapidly improve," reported Piper Jaffray analyst Andrew Nowinski after conducting checks. The recent security incidents have launched "a spending frenzy" in the space, as companies are rapidly approving requests for additional spending on IT security projects, Nowinski reported. Some resellers compared the environment to the Y2K era, as nearly every advanced security project is being approved, the analyst stated. The analyst stated that within the sector he "remains focused on high conviction names such as Palo Alto  (PANW) and to a lesser extent Fortinet (FTNT) and FireEye  (FEYE) ."

PRICE ACTION: In early trading, Palo Alto fell 0.4% to $89.37, Barracuda (CUDA) gained 1% to $25.44, Proofpoint  (PFPT) advanced 0.5% to $40.09. Fortinet slipped 0.6% to $26.26, and FireEye dropped 2.5% to $32.94.

Reporting by Larry Ramer.

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