Email of the day (1)
Comment of the Day

October 11 2011

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day (1)

on cyber security:
"In today's Financial Times there is an article on the defence industry turning to developing cyberwar services. Are there any companies in this new growth area in which we can invest?"

Eoin Treacy's view Thank you for this interesting question and associated article. Here is a section:

The internet is turning the defence industry on its head, just as it transformed media, retail and other sectors before it.

"We have moved from hackers having fun, to a wave of organised crime, to more sophisticated 'malware' being used as a threat to a country's way of life," says Mr Oslan, who also runs Boeing's cybersecurity business.

For decades, Boeing and rivals such as Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin built the aircraft and heavy equipment needed to fight wars - making the companies charter members of what former US president Dwight Eisenhower famously referred to as the "military-industrial complex".

The problem with investing in any new developing technology is finding a suitable instrument which is both liquid and offers exposure to the sector's upside. When large companies purchase small unlisted innovators, their share prices often no not reflect the performance of the sector one might be interested in. For example, cyber security only accounts for a sliver of Northrop's revenue. While that figure is growing, it will be a while before it is reflected in the share price.

I previously included Check Point Software in reviews of cloud computing shares on the basis that it provides network and database security products. These will be essential if the uses of cloud computing are to continue to expand. I do not know if it has defence industry connections but it is noteworthy for its performance.

The share formed a first step above its almost decade long base in late 2009 and reasserted the uptrend in 2010. It has been consolidating mostly above the 200-day MA since June and a sustained move below $50 would be required to question medium-term scope for additional upside. (Also see Comment of the Day on October 15th 2009 and on a number of occasions subsequently).

Fortinet pulled back sharply from its July peak but has stabilised above $15 and broke the short-term progression of lower rally highs yesterday. A sustained move to new lows would be required to question current scope for some additional higher to lateral ranging.

Websense is considerably smaller, with a market cap of $688 million. It also pulled back sharply from its July peak and stabilised above $15. The share has rallied to test the progression of lower rally highs but needs to sustain a move above $18 to suggest a return to demand dominance beyond the short term.

If subscribers can suggest any other companies that might be relevant to this growth sector, I would be happy to add them to the Chart Library.

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