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Fortinet Inc(FTNT-Q)

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Here's Why Fortinet Rose 16% in October

Motley Fool - Tue Nov 8, 2022

What happened

Fortinet(NASDAQ: FTNT) stock jumped 16.3% last month, accordingtodataprovidedbyS&P Global Market Intelligence, due to a positive research note from a high-profile analyst, along with momentum for growth stocks and the cybersecurity industry.

So what

There was no major news about Fortinet in October, and the stock closely followed some of its peers throughout the month. The popular cybersecurity stocks have strong growth prospects and fairly high valuation multiples, so they can experience big price swings without major catalysts.

FTNT Total Return Level Chart

FTNT Total Return Level data by YCharts

Fortinet was supported by an upgrade from a Morgan Stanley analyst, who is optimistic that demand for IT security will be strong enough to overcome global macroeconomic weakness. The stock also trades at a lower price-to-sales valuation than some peers, including Zscaler and CrowdStrike Holdings. This creates a cushion for Fortinet, and it can attract investors who are looking for good value in the cybersecurity world.

FTNT PS Ratio Chart

FTNT PS Ratio data by YCharts

Now what

Unfortunately, Fortinet gave back all of those gains in the first week of November. The company's quarterly earnings report exceeded analyst sales estimates. However, Wall Street was unimpressed by Fortinet's forward-looking commentary on billings. Growth is all about sustained expansion, and the future is a more important consideration than the past. Notably, the company cited macroeconomic uncertainty when it reduced sales forecasts, which casts doubt on the optimistic research report that helped buoy the stock in October.

Cybersecurity analyst working on a laptop in a data center.

Image source: Getty Images.

Conditions could remain challenging for growth stocks as interest rates continue to rise and global economic conditions remain uncertain. Even if Fortinet continues to execute well on operational goals, shareholders could endure some pain due to market conditions.

Fortinet remains an interesting long-term opportunity for growth investors. It has a 9.4 price-to-sales ratio and forward price-to-earnings ratio just under 35. Neither of those are particularly "cheap," but the stock is much cheaper than it was last year. Importantly, those valuation ratios provide the potential for long-term upside if the company continues to grow.

Last quarter's 30% revenue growth rate was considered a disappointment, so Fortinet clearly has great potential, even if it's difficult to meet those high expectations. The company is a leader in a high-growth industry, which is a great spot to occupy. Investors just need to maintain a long-term view and accept the volatility that comes along with the story.

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Ryan Downie has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc., Fortinet, and Zscaler. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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