This Dominant Growth Stock is a Buy and Hold Forever

Even after climbing nearly 7% so far in 2023, the Nasdaq Composite index remains far from exiting bear-market territory. The tech-heavy index’s level is down roughly 30% from its peak, and you don’t have to look hard to find companies that have seen far greater valuation pullbacks.

History has shown that bear-market conditions often present great buying opportunities for patient investors, and there are fast-growing companies with powerful competitive advantages that got caught up in the turbulence shaping the market at large. If you’re on the hunt for growth stocks with attractive risk-reward propositions, industry leader, CrowdStrike (CRWD) has what it takes to deliver fantastic returns to long-term investors.

Even in uncertain times, cybersecurity growth is a safe bet
For investors looking for industries that are on track to benefit from secular growth tailwinds, cybersecurity deserves a spot at the top of the list. Within that industry, CrowdStrike stands out as a top investment opportunity, as there’s an excellent chance that demand for its endpoint-device protection software will continue to surge through the next decade and beyond.

Trading down roughly 59% from its high, the stock looks like a smart buy-and-hold play.

CrowdStrike’s Falcon platform uses artificial intelligence to identify and adapt to the threats it encounters, which helps minimize the network-breach risk posed by connected computers, mobile devices, servers, and other hardware.

The adaptive nature of the Falcon software platform creates a network effect that sees every customer benefit as more customers use it. With a growing number of users encountering a wider range of threats, Falcon’s AI-powered technologies learn and evolve to offer greater protections. CrowdStrike describes this approach as “collect data once, use many times,” and it should help ensure that the business continues to expand and adapt to meet the needs of its clients.

CrowdStrike is growing rapidly and efficiently
CrowdStrike’s pioneering role in applying AI to cybersecurity helped the company build a big lead in its corner of the industry. It’s likely that this dominance will be defensible and help spur continued growth.

In its fiscal 2023, which ended in January, CrowdStrike’s sales increased by 54% to $2.24 billion. Meanwhile, non-GAAP (adjusted) net income jumped 81% to $356 million, adjusted earnings per share rose 130% to $1.54, and free cash flow climbed 53% to $677 million. CrowdStrike has now achieved a free-cash-flow margin of at least 30% for three years running, setting the stage for profitable growth as the company continues to scale, and management expects the business’s free-cash-flow margin to come in at roughly 30% this year.

Beyond its strong top-line growth, CrowdStrike is becoming a more efficient business. Adjusted operating expenses represented 60% of overall revenue last fiscal year, down from 63% of revenue in the prior one. For this year’s fiscal first quarter, the company expects that cost optimization will lead to a 1 percentage point quarter-over-quarter gross margin increase, and there should be more opportunities to reduce expenses as a percentage of revenue.

Top service offerings and huge opportunities ahead
As more business activities and communications are conducted through digital channels, cybercriminals have rising incentives to breach networks and gain access to valuable data and capabilities. With its leading position in its cybersecurity niche and accolades from industry watchers including Frost & Sullivan, Forrester, and Gartner, CrowdStrike is recognized as the top-tier provider of endpoint cybersecurity services, and it’s positioned to meet surging demand.

Beyond the rising demand that will be spurred by increasing business reliance on traditional endpoint hardware, CrowdStrike should also benefit from the ongoing growth in the number of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices. IoT Analytics estimates that there were 14.4 billion connected devices in 2022, and it expects that this number will increase to approximately 27 billion in 2025. A growing number of connected devices means a growing number of potential threat vectors and a growing role for CrowdStrike’s software in protecting the world’s hardware and networks.

CrowdStrike has already carved out a forefront position in the endpoint device protection space, and it’s on track to maintain its leadership status and capture growth in new categories. With its best-in-class endpoint protection solutions and encouraging demand tailwinds, this cybersecurity stock looks like a smart buy for long-term investors.

— Keith Noonan

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Source: The Motley Fool