Nearly nine years after Check Point Software Technologies (Nasdaq:CHKP)'s Nasdaq issue, investment bank Investec General Bank begins covering the share as well. The bank gives the share a warm Buy rating, even after its 120% leap since its $20.7 September low. The bank gives it this rating in light of what it calls "its unshakable standing in the firewall and VPN market."

The rating is positive in spite of a moderate growth forecast from Investec's technology sector analyst Avshalom Shimei, who estimates Check Point will post a mere 5% growth to EPS of $1.3 in 2002. The bank also expects revenues to total $564 million in 2002, which will reflect the increased competition in the security sector, and the declining spending on IT.

Check Point's main competitor in the VPN market is Cisco Systems (Nasdaq:CSCO), which sells hardware based firewall and VPN solutions, as opposed to Check Point's software based products. Other competitors in that realm are Nortel (NYSE:NT), SonicWALL (Nasdaq:SNWL) and Network Associates (Nasdaq:NETA).

The newest threat to Check Point is Netscreen Technologies (Nasdaq:NSCN), which raised $185 million in its Nasdaq IPO last September.

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"We believe Netscreen's technologies may turn out to be a real threat to Check Point's solutions," says the bank. At the same time, Netscreen's ability to bite into Check Point¿s market share is limited, and requires Netscreen first gains reputation and acknowledgement by security clients.

The bank speaks highly of Check Point's OPSEC, Open Platform for Security, solution, which provides the basis for integration and interoperability of solutions among 300 company customers. To ensure its competitive edge, Check Point makes sure its security software is compatible to the solutions of various communication networks.