Another day, another hacking incident in the headlines, with embarrassed corporate executives scrambling to figure out what happened (and to cover their posteriors).
Time (TIME) on Tuesday morning confirmed reports that Myspace, a Time Inc. social networking site, has been the victim of a major data breach. As many as 360 million Myspace user records were reportedly stolen.
Shortly before the Memorial Day weekend, Myspace's IT security personnel learned that stolen Myspace usernames, passwords and email addresses were being posted by an online hacker forum. The hacking incident is still under investigation and the full scope of the breach remains unclear.
If you're looking for profitable but relatively safe ways to put your hard-earned cash to work, you should pinpoint "mega-trends" with momentum. One such investment opportunity is cyber security, which is one of the surest growth opportunities you'll ever find.
The best play on cyber security is networking giant Cisco Systems (CSCO - Get Report) . The stock has enjoyed a recent post-earnings rally, but it still has plenty of upside left. Cisco exemplifies the strong underlying fundamentals that you should look for in a stock. The company sits on a huge cash hoard and controls proprietary technology that's increasingly coveted by consumers and businesses around the world.
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Cisco offers considerable capital appreciation potential, but it's also a defensive growth play for investors worried about the market's current volatility. Cisco holds cash and short-term investments (quarterly) of $63.51 billion, which provides the company with a cushion for any market downturn. This war chest also allows the company to make the consistently strong research and development spending that's necessary to maintain its edge in a fiercely competitive industry.
Meanwhile, corporate America has compiled a record amount of cash that it intends to tap for long-deferred IT investments, another multi-year boon for Cisco.
Companies are increasingly defined by the right combination of 1s and 0s, not by bricks and mortar. This digital transformation has given rise to the "extended enterprise," and with it a breeding ground for attacks on IT systems. As we've just witnessed with Time, hackers are relentless around the world.
Cisco is dominant in the technologies that make the extended enterprise possible; it's also a pioneer in creating computer defenses along the extended outreaches of these virtual empires.
Cisco dominates the global market for networking equipment, as well as the market for corporate security, making it the clear leader in both arenas. This two-pronged dominance has helped drive earnings and revenue at the company.
Cisco reported better-than-expected earnings for the third quarter of its fiscal year 2016 and gave positive guidance for its next quarter. The company posted adjusted earnings-per-share (EPS) of 57 cents, a 6% year-over-year rise. This exceeded Wall Street's expectations for EPS of 55 cents.
Cisco has made a big bet on the cloud that's paying off, as reflected by its latest operating results. Cisco's cloud-based collaboration business saw revenues rise 10% year-over-year in the third quarter, from $972 million to $1.1 billion.
Cisco stock is up 6.48% year to date, compared to 3.12% for the S&P 500 (SPY - Get Report) . The company's earnings beat gave share prices an immediate boost, but the stock still has fuel left. Now trading at $28.90, the consensus analyst one-year price target on the high end is $39, for a gain of nearly 35%. The current dividend yield of 3.60% makes this stock an investment trifecta: growth, income and safety.
And yet, Cisco's stock sports a trailing 12-month price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of only 14.32, lower than the industry's trailing P/E of 20.42. To be sure, a "hot" cyber security stock right now is FireEye (FEYE - Get Report) , but it's a smaller and riskier bet (market cap: $2.64 billion) that lacks Cisco's diversity and ballast. Cisco is a behemoth with a valuation of $145.53 billion, but it also boasts impressive double-digit growth potential not often available from large caps.
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