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These 2 ‘secular’ growth stocks are likely to keep rising despite rate hikes, fund managers say


Shares of cybersecurity companies are likely to stay on their “secular” growth trajectory despite an increase in interest rates or a slowdown in global growth, according to several fund managers. Cybercrime is estimated to have cost economies worldwide $5.5 trillion in 2021, nearly twice as much as the previous year, according to Statista . That trend is expected to double again to almost $10 trillion by 2028. The rise in such threats is behind much of the cybersecurity sector’s growth of 12.5% in the first quarter of this year from the same period last year, according to market research firm Canalys . Companies are spending more to protect themselves from reputation-damaging and costly data breaches. In addition, Palo Alto Networks earlier this week reported stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings. The company expects a 17%-19% compounded annual growth rate over the next three years. The stock jumped nearly 15% in response and is up almost 75% this year, beating the broader tech sector. CrowdStrike or Palo Alto Networks? Because of the strength and organic nature of that demand, companies have to buy and finance cybersecurity products and services even at high interest rates, according to Stephen Weiss, chief investment officer of Short Hills Capital. Weiss’ sentiment was reflected in Palo Alto’s results, where the company expects more business transitions into annual billings through deferred payment plans while maintaining free cash flow. For investors, that means cybersecurity is a “place where you have to be,” Weiss told CNBC’s Halftime Report Monday. However, he cautioned against buying CrowdStrike at current share price levels as they may be overvalued. CrowdStrike closed at $153 on Monday. “I’m not tempted at this level. I’d like to see it settle in a little bit before I buy it. I don’t regard it as particularly cheap,” Weiss said. Joe Terranova, senior managing director at Virtus Investment Partners, who currently owns CrowdStrike , Palo Alto and Fortinet , agreed. “Cybersecurity has been a thesis that I believed in whether interest rates were 1% or were approaching 5%. I believe that cybersecurity was something that investors should maintain positioning towards as you look into the future,” Terranova said after admitting that he missed out on gains by selling CrowdStrike shares too early. “In the fall, I believe I bought CrowdStrike somewhere around $110 to $115 level, traded out of that in June at $145, which doesn’t look too good this morning,” he said. Terranova believes Palo Alto and CrowdStrike will be the “mainstays” in his portfolio and revealed that he recently added to both positions. ETF play As for investors who shy away from individual stocks, Bryn Talkington, managing partner at Requisite Capital Management, suggested using cybersecurity exchange-traded funds to invest in the sector. “I own BUG, concentrated in pure cyber security plays,” she said, referring to the ticker of Global X Cybersecurity ETF . “It’s a smart way to have a concentrated portfolio where I’m not going to get shaken out because, ultimately, all of these companies won’t be the winners.” Talkington sees cybersecurity as a “secular story, the long-term story” but notes investors must navigate economic cycles. She said slowdowns may curb customer spending but won’t undermine the industry’s rise.

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