Zscaler vs. McAfee: Which Cybersecurity Stock is a Better Buy?

Cybersecurity stocks seem to get a pop anytime there is a high-profile hacking in the news with the most recent example being the Colonial Pipeline. It’s simply a reminder that companies are more reliant on technology which needs to be protected. For businesses, this is becoming as necessary as buying liability insurance to protect data and ensure operations are not disrupted.

Despite recent strength, many cybersecurity stocks are down between 20 and 40% over the last couple of months. Given the sector’s long-term fundamentals, this could be an interesting entry point.

Here is a quick look at a couple of the top cybersecurity stocks that might be worthy of a place in your portfolio: Zscaler (ZS) and McAfee (MCFE).

Zscaler (ZS)

ZS has been in business for nearly 15 years. Originally known as SafeChannel, ZS changed its name one year later. As one of the globe’s top cloud-based digital security solutions providers, ZS provides a plethora of network security services including mobile security, internet security, web security, firewalls, antivirus protection, cloud computing protection, vulnerability management, and plenty more.

ZS is a POWR Ratings disappointment with a D overall grade, meaning it is a Sell. ZS has C grades in the Momentum, Quality, Sentiment, and Growth components. You can find out how ZS fares in the Value and Stability components of the POWR Ratings by clicking here. ZS is ranked 19th of 24 stocks in the Software – Security space. Investors who would like to learn more about the stocks in this segment can do so by clicking here.

ZS is held in high regard by analysts. If the stock reaches the experts’ average target price of $237.71, the stock will have soared more than 45%. ZS’s average analyst price target has jumped an impressive $87 across the prior 35 weeks. Of the 26 analysts who have issued recommendations on the stock, seven consider it a Strong Buy, 11 consider it a Buy, and eight views it as a Hold.

ZS has a low beta of 0.80 so it probably won’t fluctuate if the market has wild swings. However, the stock has an egregiously high forward P/E ratio of 434.82, meaning it might be overvalued at its current trading price of $194.20.

McAfee (MCFE)

MCFE has been one of the top cybersecurity names for decades. The company’s digital security services are device-to-cloud, meaning there is no need to insert a tangible disk to enjoy protection. Based in bustling San Jose, MCFE is a POWR Ratings success with a B overall rating indicating it is a Buy. The stock has B grades in the Quality, Value, and Growth components. If you are curious as to how MCFE grades out in the remainder of the POWR Ratings components such as Momentum, Sentiment, and Stability, you can find out by clicking here.

Of the 24 stocks in the Software – Security space, MCFE is ranked third. You can learn more about the stocks in this sector by clicking here.

MCFE has a forward P/E ratio of 19.75. This is a respectable forward P/E ratio, especially when you factor in that MCFE is trading within a dollar of its 52-week high. The analysts anticipate MCFE will increase by 5.68%. The high target for the stock is $32, the low target is $22 and the average target is $26.25. Of the seven analysts who have issued MCFE recommendations, five view it as a Buy and two view it as a Hold.

MCFE shares climbed earlier this month following the company’s announcement that it would sell the enterprise component of its business, choosing to square its focus on cybersecurity for consumers. MCFE will haul in $4 billion for the sale. The company’s subscribers in terms of direct-to-consumer services jumped 18% in the fourth quarter of ’20 compared to that of ’19.

Which is the Better Cybersecurity Stock?

MCFE is the better of these two stocks. MCFE is ranked higher than ZS in the context of the overarching digital security segment. Add in the fact that MCFE has superior POWR Rating component grades and the decision between the two becomes even easier.

MCFE shares were unchanged in premarket trading Thursday. Year-to-date, MCFE has gained 53.15%, versus a 12.55% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

Patrick Ryan has more than a dozen years of investing experience with a focus on information technology, consumer and entertainment sectors. In addition to working for StockNews, Patrick has also written for Wealth Authority and Fallon Wealth Management.

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