Blowout Earnings Aside, Lay off CyberArk Stock for Now

CyberArk (NASDAQ:CYBR) spiked higher in Thursday trading on a solid quarterly report. The Israeli-based online security firm blew away earnings and revenue estimates and garnered a lot of attention for CyberArk stock.

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While this will please investors who bought before the announcement, valuation and growth forecasts warrant caution in CyberArk stock. Although CYBR should move higher in the long-term, the move higher makes the short and medium term outlook uncertain. CyberArk Stock Beat Estimates

In Q4, Cyberark reported non-GAAP earnings of 89 cents per share, 30 cents per share higher than analysts had anticipated. The company also doubled its net income over year-ago levels, when the company reported a profit of 41 cents per share.

Likewise, revenue also came in well ahead of estimates. CYBR brought in $109.1 million, $13.16 million more than expected. This represents a year-over-year increase of 35.7%.

Full-year results also came in ahead of expectations. As with the quarterly results, annual net income came in 30 cents per share ahead of $1.76 per share consensus estimate. The company earned $2.06 per share, 77.6% higher than the $1.16 per share in non-GAAP earnings reported in 2017. Revenues of $343.2 million beat estimates by $13.3 million. They also rose 31% above 2017 levels.

First quarter 2019 guidance also surprised to the upside. CyberArk expects between $91 million and $93 million. This would take net income somewhere between 39 cents and 42 cents per share.

For fiscal 2019, analysts predict somewhere between $411 million and $415 million in revenue. This brings about a slight increase in income estimates. The company forecasts between $1.94 and $2.00 per share in earnings.

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Financial Metrics Imply a Temporary Setback

Traders took this news well, and CyberArk stock rose to $104.06 per share, an increase of 20.5% from Wednesday’s close. Two weeks ago when the stock traded in the mid-$80s per share level, I described CYBR as expensive, but worth it.

While this has pleased investors, I also see this as a time for caution, and a warning to look more closely at the numbers. Thursday’s spike in CYBR stock takes the forward price-to-earnings (PE) ratio to almost 54. The high end of the company’s earnings estimates comes to $2 per share. Investors should realize that if this happens, it will represent a slight decline in earnings for 2019.

For this reason, I see a temporary pause or even a pullback happening. However, analysts still expect an average earnings growth rate of 33.2% per year over the next five years. Hence, I would expect an interruption, not a downtrend.

As for CyberArk stock, I still see it as a buy on any pullback. Tech advances will make CyberArk and peers such as Check Point Software (NASDAQ:CHKP) and Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ:PANW) at least as necessary as Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC) was in the PC world.

After all, its current applications, as well as the ones that will probably come from 5G, make CyberArk’s software all the more important. However, valuations have become frothy. For those who want to take some profits, I see now as a good time.

Concluding Thoughts on CyberArk stock

CyberArk faces a bright long-term future amid an unclear near-term outlook. CYBR blew away earnings and revenue estimates for both Q4 and fiscal 2018. The company also raised guidance for both the next quarter and the upcoming fiscal year.

This good news has the result of clarifying the long-term outlook while making the short-term more uncertain. Amid the good news, the outlook implies profit shrinkages for fiscal 2019. Although I think this amounts to a pause rather than a peak, it could make investors question the 54 forward PE ratio for now.

I do not want to discourage those who wish to buy CyberArk. However, given the near-term outlook, I would urge investors to take profits now and buy later.

As of this writing, Will Healy did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. You can follow Will on Twitter

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