A uncommon shiny spot within the inventory market could also be set to fizzle out

By Paul R. La Monica, CNN Enterprise

Tech shares, like the remainder of the broader market, have seen their justifiable share of ups and downs since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the finish of February. However for one a part of the expertise sector — cybersecurity -— it’s been a roaring bull marketplace for the previous few weeks.

The ETFMG Prime Cyber Safety and First Belief NASDAQ Cybersecurity exchange-traded funds, which each personal shares of high cybersecurity firms akin to Zscaler, CrowdStrike, Cloudflare, Fortinet and Splunk, have every surged about 10% since Russia attacked Ukraine.

The rally is sensible. In any case, there are rising considerations about cyber warfare from Russia in opposition to the West in response to sanctions in opposition to Vladimir Putin’s regime.

“The evolution of cyberthreat exercise might form the very nature of battle sooner or later,” stated S&P World Market Intelligence in a latest report. “Russian cyberattacks might strike US infrastructure within the wake of the Ukraine battle, in response to nationwide safety consultants.”

However have the shares run up too far too quick? Each cyber ETFs are nonetheless down greater than 7% this yr, regardless of their latest surges. A few of the particular person shares within the funds have suffered even greater drops. Fortinet and CrowdStrike have each fallen greater than 15% this yr, for instance.

Many buyers stay nervous that the broader slowdown within the tech sector may very well be an indication of weaker demand for cybersecurity providers, regardless of the rising danger of knowledge breaches.

There are additionally some questions on whether or not smaller cybersecurity corporations will be capable of compete with tech juggernauts like Microsoft and Cisco, each of which have invested a number of cash to bolster their very own tech safety companies.

Nonetheless, the presence of bigger tech firms in cybersecurity may additionally be a blessing for the smaller gamers.

“We’re completely seeing extra curiosity in cybersecurity,” stated Sam Masucci, founder and CEO of ETFMG about its ETF and the businesses within the fund, which trades underneath the ticker image HACK. “The fund is positioned properly for any mergers and acquisitions.”

Shares of Splunk, for instance, briefly surged earlier this yr on stories that Cisco would possibly wish to purchase it. And Mandiant, the corporate previously referred to as FireEye, was the topic of a rumor that Microsoft was trying to purchase it.

“Cybersecurity will proceed to be a key driver of mergers and acquisitions in 2022,” stated Sapana Maheria, follow head of thematic analysis at GlobalData, in a report final month following the chatter about Cisco and Spunk. She added that the safety software program market is “ripe for offers.”

That could be true. Nonetheless, publicly traded cybersecurity firms would possibly now be too wealthy for some patrons’ blood.

“Valuations are excessive. There may be a variety of money chasing too few offers and a shortage of belongings. It’s nonetheless frothy,” stated Steve Vintz, chief monetary officer of Tenable, a cyber danger administration firm with a historical past of shopping for smaller, privately held firms. “It’s important to be selective with mergers.”

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