The professional analysts and investors on Wall Street don't always get things right, but they occasionally form a consensus on a particular stock that's so clear it's hard to ignore. Such recommendations can serve as a guiding light during choppy market conditions, much like the ones investors are seeing now, particularly in the technology sector.
The Wall Street Journal tracks the activity of Wall Street analysts who cover the companies Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ: PANW) and Datadog (NASDAQ: DDOG). Both companies have attracted a bullish consensus, and not one single analyst recommends selling stock from either one. Here's why investors should follow Wall Street's lead on these two growth stocks.
1. Palo Alto Networks
Palo Alto Networks' stock price is up 40% so far in 2023, doubling the return of the Nasdaq-100 technology index. The price is closing in on an all-time high. The company is a leader in the cybersecurity industry across 13 different categories, and it's coming off a fiscal 2023 second quarter (ended Jan. 31) where demand for its solutions appeared to accelerate.
Palo Alto offers an expansive portfolio of products with a primary focus on cloud security and security operations, where many modern-day vulnerabilities exist. Companies (particularly large ones) face an ever-growing attack surface as they continue to conduct more business online, and that calls for advanced protection. In the first half of fiscal 2023, Palo Alto released 35 new products, which was 59% more than it released in the year-ago period.
That rapid growth stems from surging demand for solutions from larger, more complex organizations. In Q2, the number of deals Palo Alto closed that were worth $10 million or more soared by 144% year over year, which is clear evidence of that demand. And the company has accelerated its innovation flywheel with $1 billion in research and development spending over the last 12 months, which is up to five times more than some of its competitors have spent.
Palo Alto ended Q2 with $8.8 billion in remaining performance obligations (RPOs), up 39% year over year, which was faster than its 38% growth rate in the first quarter. It's the key number to watch because it represents the company's pipeline of work, which is expected to convert into revenue over time.
The Wall Street Journal tracks 43 analysts who cover Palo Alto Networks stock, and 34 of them have given it the highest possible buy rating. Three have rated the stock overweight (bullish), and six recommend holding. None of the analysts currently recommend selling. Since demand for cybersecurity software isn't going away anytime soon, following Wall Street's lead into this leading provider might be a smart move.
Step back in time for a moment and imagine you were a business owner 20 years ago. When customers came into your store, you interacted with them and formed a connection. As a result, it became quite easy to determine whether they enjoyed their shopping experience -- if it was good, they likely made a purchase and were pleasant to deal with, and if it was bad, they probably voiced their concerns to you directly.
But now it's 2023, and thanks to the internet and cloud computing technology, those customers are shopping in your online store instead. You never get to see their face or have a conversation with them, so it's really difficult to know if they're unsatisfied. Often, the only way to tell is if sales decline.
That's where Datadog comes in; it's a cloud analytics platform that monitors a business's online infrastructure to spot bugs and technical issues, even if they're only affecting a tiny number of customers in one location. It allows the business to react quickly and before customers are impacted.
And it's not just for retail -- Datadog serves financial institutions, game operators, and entertainment companies, to name a few. In fact, at the end of 2022, Datadog had 23,200 business customers including 2,780 that spend at least $100,000 per year on its platform.
Datadog generated $1.68 billion in revenue during 2022, and not only was that up a whopping 63% compared to 2021, but it also blew away the company's original guidance of $1.53 billion (which was revised higher throughout the year). It's also on the cusp of profitability, having lost just $50 million at the bottom line in 2022, which was close to a breakeven result given how much revenue it's bringing in.
The Wall Street Journal tracks 34 analysts who cover Datadog stock, and 20 of them have given it the highest possible buy rating. A further six are in the overweight (bullish) camp, with eight recommending to hold. Not one analyst recommends selling. Since the stock is currently down 65% from its all-time high, this might be a great time for investors to buy in.
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Anthony Di Pizio has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Datadog and Palo Alto Networks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.