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Fortinet stock falls after Citi downgrades to sell

Emily Bary

Citi Research analyst Walter Pritchard downgraded shares of cybersecurity company Fortinet Inc. to sell from neutral on Friday after the company beat earnings expectations with its first-quarter report a day earlier. Pritchard worries if the company is pursuing the wrong strategy given industry trends. "Fortinet is doubling down on integrating security with network, and network products have helped drive incremental product growth over the last 18 months," he wrote. This strategy is more in line with Cisco Systems Inc.'s strengths, he said, but even Cisco's success with it has been "underwhelming," in his view. "We contrast strategy with peers Palo Alto Networks and, more recently Check Point Software Technologies , focused on maintaining relevance as customers look to secure cloud, where Fortinet lags," he wrote. Pritchard also saw "weak product trends" in the first quarter and said that this is the area of the business where problems would normally show up first. He cut his target price to $78 from $84 in conjunction with the downgrade. Fortinet shares are down 6.5% in Friday trading, though several other analysts raised their price targets. The stock has gained 21% so far this year, as the S&P 500 has risen 17%.