NEW YORK (The Street) -- Shares of Palo Alto Networks (PANW), a leading provider of cyber security and anti-hacking services, are on fire. The stock is up 33% year-to-date, dominating both the broader averages and the iShares North American Tech-Software ETF (IGV), which is up 10.5% on the year. Despite the strong performance, don't hold your breath for a pullback in the stock after the company reports fiscal third-quarter earnings results Wednesday. It's not likely to happen.
Palo Alto Networks closed Friday at $162.87, after netting a new all-time intraday high for the fourth straight day, reaching $163.21. And as impressive as the 33% year-to-date gains may seem for Palo Alto Networks' stock, it has had a roughly 134% advance in the past twelve months. If you've held Palo Alto Networks' stock for the past three years, you're up more than 206%.
Why has the stock done so well? Cyber criminals aren't going away. And hackers have become more sophisticated today than they've ever been, especially given the growth in mobile devices and things that can easily be used to track and steal data from any remote location. Corporations demand better security services and products to protect their data. In other words, the more bad guys there are out there, the better it is for Palo Alto Networks' business.