2 Top Cybersecurity Stocks You Can Buy and Hold for the Next Decade

When you think of tech stocks, the phrase “recession-proof” doesn’t normally spring to mind. That’s because the industry is among the first to decline when fears of an impending economic downturn spike. Enterprises and consumers often look to delay or cancel IT spending when they’re focused on saving cash, after all.

The cybersecurity niche within tech is a bit of an outlier, though. While it isn’t immune to the swings in the wider economy, this industry is increasingly prioritized by big enterprises even when they are slashing spending elsewhere.

Yet not all cybersecurity specialists have what it takes to thrive in this competitive market. Let’s take a closer look at a few that stand out as potential winners. Two in particular, Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ: PANW) and Okta (NASDAQ: OKTA), could make great long-term buy-and-hold stocks.

1. Palo Alto Networks

There’s a lot to like about Palo Alto Networks, but Wall Street was disappointed by one key metric in its latest earnings report. The cybersecurity leader reduced its fiscal year outlook and executives now expect revenue to increase 15% to 16% rather than the prior forecast range of 18% to 19%. Understandably, the stock would drop after that downer of an update.

But Palo Alto Networks is still a strong business operating in a high-growth industry. Sales rose nearly 20% year over year in the most recent quarter on top of the prior year’s 26% spike. It turns out enterprises are still finding room in their budgets to adopt its comprehensive security solutions platform. And the company maintained its forecast for generating a blazing 27% non-GAAP profit margin this year. Adjusted free cash flow will still land at nearly 40% of sales as well. Finally, Palo Alto Networks is on track for another year of profitability on the bottom line.

Those factors should support market-beating returns for shareholders willing to hold this volatile stock for the next decade or longer.

2. Okta

Okta stock is doing well in 2024 (up 17% so far), but its shares remain 63% below their 2021 pandemic peak. That situation sets up a potentially lucrative opportunity for investors seeking exposure to the cybersecurity market.

Okta was focused on the digital identity management niche before its acquisition of the Auth0 platform closed last year. That buyout became a headache due to integration challenges, but the company seems to have put those issues behind it. Sales last quarter were up 19% year over year as enterprises spent aggressively on protecting their workflows.

The software-as-a-service specialist isn’t generating consistent profits today, and that’s a big knock against the stock. Yet look at cash flow trends and you’ll feel more confident about its earnings potential. Okta generated $512 million of free cash flow last year, with its cash flow margin rising from 5% of sales to 23% of sales.

Investors expect modest growth in the year ahead, with most Wall Street pros looking for sales to rise by about 10% to $2.5 billion. Consider taking advantage of the fact that investors are impatiently seeking faster growth from other software specialists. Okta seems primed to build on its solid market share position over the next several years even as its cash flow begins to convert into positive annual earnings.

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Demitri Kalogeropoulos has positions in Okta. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Okta and Palo Alto Networks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

2 Top Cybersecurity Stocks You Can Buy and Hold for the Next Decade was originally published by The Motley Fool