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Hack attacks = big $ for cybersecurity IPO

September 25, 2014: 1:38 PM ET
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High-profile cyberattacks against prominent retailers and banks may be helping newly public CyberArk. Shares have doubled.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.

The Nasdaq was in blood red mode Thursday. But the big drop in tech stocks didn't hurt the performance of a red hot IPO.

No, I'm not talking about Alibaba (BABA). A company called CyberArk Software (CYBR) went public Wednesday. Shares surged nearly 90%. And they rose nearly 10% on Thursday.

So why is this stock being spared from the brutal momentum sell-off? One word: Hacking.

CyberArk develops software designed to protect companies from malicious attacks by cybercriminals, so-called "hacktivists" and even government-sponsored groups engaging in industrial espionage.

Target (TGT). JPMorgan Chase (JPM). Home Depot (HD). All of them have been in the headlines due to security breaches. So it's no wonder that a company like CyberArk would be in demand.

Related: Why Home Depot is not the next Target

The company's main product helps companies keep "privileged accounts" -- think of things such as log-in info for a big company's IT managers and passwords to social media accounts -- safe. And this looks like a very lucrative business.

Sales rose 30% in 2012 and another 40% last year. And revenue through the first six months of 2014 is up 33% from the same period in 2013.

CyberArk has also been profitable the past few years. It did lose money in the first half of 2014 -- but that was solely due to expenses tied to revaluing warrants ahead of the IPO.

Another plus for the company? It's already a worldwide player in the cybersecurity market. Nearly half of the company's sales come from outside the U.S. (CyberArk is based in Israel and has its U.S. headquarters in Newton, Mass.)

Related: How safe are you? Read CNNMoney's cybersecurity Flipboard

But investors need to be careful before they decide to board the CyberArk. Shares trade at more than 130 times last year's earnings. That's extremely expensive.

The company also faces competition from both pure-play cybersecurity firms such as Palo Alto Networks (PANW) and FireEye (FEYE) as well as subsidiaries of tech giants IBM (IBM), Oracle (ORCL) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).

Shares of the smaller pure-play cybersecurity stocks have been ridiculously volatile this year. They got a pop recently after Jennifer Lawrence and several other celebrities had their nude photos published online following a hack of their iCloud accounts.

But investors have to do their homework with these companies. Not all of them are going to thrive. Just look at how poorly FireEye's stock has done this year. Palo Alto, on the other hand, has been a Wall Street darling.

So will CyberArk turn out to be more like Palo Alto than FireEye? That's hard to say just yet.

The only thing that's clear is that CyberArk seems to have replaced Alibaba as Wall Street's favorite IPO flavor of the month.

Reader Comment of the Week! Not a good week for Apple (AAPL).

The jury's still out on whether BendGate is a real problem or not. But the company's iOS 8.0.1 update was a disaster. I thought the company was discontinuing the iPod Classic? Maybe Apple needs to give away some free music again. Oh wait. That was a PR nightmare too.

One follower said he was in the uncomfortable position of downloading iOS 8.0.1 right around the time Apple 'fessed up and pulled it. His concern about what might happen next (as well as a follow-up tweet about the Beastie Boys) win him this week's Reader Comment honors.

Ha! Hope the update went well. Go Giants, by the way.

And my advice to all of you new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners regarding that whole unintentional curve issue? Take the device out of your back pocket if you plan to Shake Your Rump!

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