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Palo Alto Networks (PANW) Dips Ahead of Earnings: What to Expect

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Shares of Palo Alto Networks (PANW - Free Report) dipped 3% on Wednesday, just one day before the cybersecurity firm is scheduled to release its latest quarterly earnings report. Broader tech indexes were down as well, but investors clearly displayed some extra hesitation here ahead of the report. Nevertheless, this popular security stock will certainly be one to watch tomorrow.

Even with today’s slump, PANW shares are up about 25% over the past six months as investors continue to search for strong options in the growing cybersecurity business. Palo Alto Networks is a major player in the enterprise security market, and its firewalls and cloud-based services are an ideal fit for today’s era of business computing.

So what should investors expect from PANW when it reports tomorrow? Let’s take a closer look.

Palo Alto Networks, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Palo Alto Networks, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise | Palo Alto Networks, Inc. Quote

Earnings Outlook

Palo Alto Networks will release its fiscal fourth quarter 2018 financial results after the closing bell on Thursday. Here’s what analysts are expecting, according to our Zacks Consensus Estimates:

Earnings: PANW is projected to report adjusted earnings of $1.17 per share, which would represent year-over-year growth of more than 27%.

Estimate Revisions: Palo Alto Networks has seen one positive revision to its soon-to-be-reported quarter’s EPS estimates within the past 30 days. No negative revisions have taken place in that time period. The Zacks Consensus Estimate now sits a penny higher than where it did about a month ago.

Revenue: Consensus estimates have PANW’s Q4 revenue pegged at $633.19 million. This would mark growth of about 24% from the prior-year period.

Valuation

PANW is trading at 45.5x forward 12-month earnings. That’s obviously a steep premium compared to broader markets, but it is a noticeable discount to its industry’s average of 76.9x. Many cybersecurity firms are still on the brink of profitability, so it’s logical that valuations would be skewed here, but this is certainly an interesting trend to note.

Bottom Line

Palo Alto Networks is a solid, profitable company offering a quality product in a growing industry. Investors clearly like what the company has been doing recently, as is reflected in its recent momentum. This run might add pressure to deliver great results tomorrow, and that could always cause earnings-related volatility, but growth is likely to be evident, and that should be encouraging for the future.

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