The global cyber war continues to rage, engulfing political parties and national leaders of all types. Corporations also are falling victim to digital espionage, as cyber thieves hack into precious informational assets.
Below, we examine one of the best growth plays on the worsening scourge of digital hacking. First, let's look at the latest developments on the cyber battlefield.
Anyone who has watched The Sopranos knows that the early "songbirds" get the best plea bargain deals. This fact of jurisprudence probably explains why Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, on Thursday offered to testify before congressional committees investigating links between the Trump team and Russia. In return, Flynn demanded immunity.
The crux of the Flynn scandal is Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election, through the hacking of Democratic party databases and emails and the creation of websites that spread "fake news" and derogatory information about Trump's Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.
The field of cyber security is rife with investment opportunities, with Silicon Valley giants such as Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Oracle (ORCL) dominating the landscape. These megacap tech stocks are solid investments but the problem is, they're a bit pricey now as the stock market hovers at lofty valuations. For market-beating growth, a shrewd move is to invest in a smaller, lesser-known player with Washington Beltway contacts and a diverse client base.
That description fits ManTech International (MANT) . With a market cap of $1.34 billion, ManTech provides cyber security products for national security agencies in the U.S. and internationally. As a midcap, ManTech should confer healthier capital appreciation than its giant peers.
ManTech provides hardware as well as software to support technology infrastructures, such as data centers, cloud services, and email or desktop computing. The company is based in the heart of the country's national security community in Fairfax, Va.
ManTech's client list is diverse and extends beyond the defense and spy establishments, which provides a cushion against falling demand in any one area.
ManTech boasts lucrative contracts with the CIA, FBI and NSA; the Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, Energy, Justice, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services; the space community; and other government agencies.
ManTech in February was awarded a $20 million contract to provide IT security to the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Information & Technology, to support veterans' health care.
Also in February, ManTech was awarded a contract potentially worth $152 million by the U.S. Army Communications and Electronics Command Software Engineering Center to provide worldwide software support for the Army's intelligence systems.
ManTech is scheduled to report first-quarter fiscal 2017 earnings on May 3. The average analyst expectation is that earnings per share (EPS) will come in at 34 cents, compared to EPS of 35 cents in the same period a year ago. Next year's earnings growth is expected to reach 5.4% on a year-over-year basis. The stock's trailing 12-month price to earnings ratio (P/E) is 23, roughly in line with the trailing P/E for its industry.
ManTech's shares trade at about $34; the average analyst one-year price target for the stock is about $39, for an implied gain of nearly 15%.
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