Theme basket review: Cyber security consolidation at full speed
Head of Equity Strategy
Summary: Russia's decision to invade Ukraine has created tailwinds for cyber security stocks on top of those that were already structurally in place as the number of cyber-attacks have increased dramatically forcing companies and government to increase their cyber security defence. In our annual review of our basket we have replaced four stocks due to number of acquisitions as the industry consolidating fast these years.
Cyber security is rising on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Our cyber security theme basket is up 7.5% in February driven by a whopping 3.7% gain yesterday as investors are rotating into equities that provide upside or hedging capabilities in an inflationary environment with added geopolitical risks. The industry was already accelerating in terms of growth before the invasion of Ukraine with the median revenue growth in the basket being 20.2% y/y with the median operating margin at -6.7% over the past 12 months. This is still an industry that is growing fast and prioritizing growth over profitability.
Since the invasion of Ukraine companies and governments have increased their spending on cyber security to be prepared for any cyber-attack. According to this Forbes article, the number of Russian-sourced cyber-attacks increased 800% in the immediate 48 hours after the invasion started, and key government infrastructure in the US has been put on high alert.
|Name||Market Cap (USD mn.)||Sales growth (%)||Operating margin (%)||Diff to PT (%)||5Y return %|
|Palo Alto Networks Inc||58,524||28.4||-6.7||4.6||410.1|
|Crowdstrike Holdings Inc||44,769||68.8||-10.5||38.6||NA|
|Check Point Software Technologies Ltd||19,240||4.9||41.9||-6.1||46.1|
|Trend Micro Inc/Japan||8,288||9.4||22.9||-0.2||55.3|
|CyberArk Software Ltd||6,765||8.3||-15.6||19.2||234.7|
|Tenable Holdings Inc||6,077||22.9||-7.7||19.7||NA|
|Varonis Systems Inc||4,688||33.3||-25.3||35.4||367.1|
|Sailpoint Technologies Holdings Inc||3,882||20.2||-13.3||40.9||NA|
|Venustech Group Inc||3,580||45.8||17.2||54.3||14.5|
|CommVault Systems Inc||2,803||8.3||5.4||21.8||27.9|
|Aggregate / median||400,784||20.2||-6.7||21.8||104.3|
The industry is undergoing a rapid consolidation with Proofpoint being acquired by the private equity firm Thoma Bravo last year and Microsoft recently going after Mandiant (formerly FireEye), and Avast is being acquired by NortonLifeLock. In addition, McAfee is being taking private by a group of investors. The industry is rapidly evolving technologically and in terms of complexity, and as a result we expect the consolidation to continue with the industry ending up being dominated by 4-5 companies sitting 80% of the combined revenue in the industry.
The stocks that have been removed due to acquisitions or otherwise are:
- Mandiant (because we expect Microsoft’s acquisition to go through)
- SolarWinds (reviewed this company and it is not pure enough cyber security)
Avast is being kept in the portfolio for now but the acquisition by NortonLifeLock will most likely go through in April and at that point we will update the basket again.
The stocks we have added are:
Darktrace and F-Secure increases the geographical exposure a bit away from an otherwise very US-centric basket.
Latest Market Insights
Q4 Outlook 2022: Winter is coming
- Winter is coming to the financial markets as central banks are tightening their grip. How spring will look is still a question.
European energy crisis: it will get worse before it gets betterThe winter in Europe will be tough, but whether the result is political chaos or sustainable, innovative solutions is still undecided.
A difficult and volatile quarter awaitsAs the year draws to an end, commodities continue to be at centre stage of the world with growth pockets political uncertainty.
The bright side: crises drive innovationThe positive spin on crises is that they come with solutions. It is worrisome that deglobalisation may be a response to this crisis.
Green transformation in China: renewable energy and beyondGoing green, China needs to span numerous energy sources to ensure stability, as every source comes with a challenge.
Asia: Intermittent solutions, but a faster renewable adoption curveAsian energy supply is being squeezed. This and the adoption of renewables may change the investment sentiment in the region.
FX: A Fed thaw needed to deliver a sustained USD turn lowerThe US Dollar can keep momentum when the Federal Reserve continues to tighten, leaving the rest to play to their drum.
Autumn can become ugly for equities and bond holders. Comfort for Dollar longsTechnical analysis suggests that equities could face a tough Q4 as could fixed income. US Dollar positions could provide some upside.
The next stock market sector to watch, with stocks going nuclearAs the world scrambles to find affordable, sustainable energy, nuclear is getting attention from politicians and investors alike.
The crypto space is getting cold when the hype disappearsCryptocurrencies face a winter of their own as retail investors and governments are asking tough questions.