One step ahead
Indeed, a number of cybersecurity companies saw the rise of AI coming. Where many ordinary citizens have been caught by surprise, these companies have for a while now been embracing machine learning technology across the board.
Take Zscaler, for example, which recently introduced its suite of generative AI solutions designed to enhance threat detection, prevention, and response.3
Likewise, Crowdstrike recently announced its generative AI platform called CharlotteAI, which helps users of all skillsets improve their ability to stop cybersecurity breaches.4
Many more examples exist, with firms like Darktrace5 and SentinelOne6 also incorporating generative AI into their offerings.
Yet, despite resilient strong financial performance year to date, the cybersecurity sector looks under-appreciated and as a result, relatively cheap versus other tech sectors that have materially recovered after last year’s wider tech sell off.
In our Cybersecurity and Data Privacy basket of stocks, the Q2 2023 Earnings Season saw 89% of companies delivering positives sales growth, with more than half beating analyst expectations. A further 74% delivered positive earnings growth with 80% outperforming analyst forecasts.7
If we look at the chart below, we can see that the leading P/E ratio for our Cybersecurity and Data Privacy basket of stocks has fallen considerably over the past year. As of June 23, it sat one standard deviation below the mean.
At the stock level, despite year to date share price appreciation for companies like Crowdstrike and Zscaler – amounting to 47% and 34.6% respectively, these companies continue to trade below historical multiples.
We expect a catch up to be coming.
After all, hot trends – including generative AI – can lead valuations to skyrocketing valuations in hot stocks. Focus gets narrowed, and investor FOMO kicks in. Accordingly, stocks end up being worth much more than their real value.
In contrast, current multiples in the cybersecurity industry suggest a far more reasonable valuation. These companies are currently attractively priced due to the fact that investors have not fully recognised the strong correlation between the cybersecurity sector – a secular beneficiary of AI – and the AI industry itself, which remains the center of attention.
When you combine this with the wider market opportunity on offer within cybersecurity, as cybersecurity companies leverage new technology to adapt and improve their offerings and penetrate new markets, sustainable long-term growth begins to look much more achievable.