Shares of Palo Alto Networks were up 10% in after-hours trading after the cybersecurity software firm reported a 30% year-over-year revenue increase at $711.2 million for the quarter and adjusted earnings of $1.51 per share. The firm beat analysts' projections on both counts, and also announced a $1 billion stock buyback plan.
For this quarter, the company guided for revenue between $697 million and $707 million, representing growth between 23% and 25%. That was the high end of forecasts, at a $697 million consensus.
Bullish analysts argue that the cybersecurity provider has the wind at its back because of a number of secular factors, including increasing demand for cloud security, firewall protection and other security products.
"We told members that in order to push higher given the massive run we saw into earnings, we would need a monster beat. Bottom line, our conviction was rewarded and Palo Alto is showing why it's the industry leader," said Zev Fima, an analyst with Jim Cramer's Action Alerts Plus portfolio.
Palo Alto Networks continues its work in acquiring new customers and adding new security products to its portfolio. Last week, it announced a $560 acquisition of Demisto, a startup focusing on security orchestration, automation, and response. On a post-earnings call, CEO Nikesh Arora told investors that the Demisto will continue operating as a "separate speedboat" under its CEO, Slavik Markovich.
Palo Alto Network executives told investors to expect billings between $50 million and $55 million from the acquisition -- though CFO Kathy Bonanno demurred in explaining how quickly those billings would be absorbed into Palo Alto Network's revenue.
Arora explained that the Demisto acquisition plays a role in one of the company's key initiatives, which is to assist their customers in managing and automating a proliferating number of security alerts.
"We realize there's a crescendo where people need help solving these alerts," Arora said. "Part of the opportunity we have is take that and leverage it across the application framework."
Demisto's technology uses machine learnings to establish workflows for resolving security issues, and Palo Alto Networks' product chief Lee Klarich added that the technology can help customers resolve a proliferating volume of security alerts.
"We do want to encourage customers to have more alerts," he said. "More data is always a good thing, but only if the majority of that you can deal with automatically."
Palo Alto Networks is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust.