FireEye Is ‘First in the Door’ on Big Cyberattacks

They're the emergency responders of the computer industry. CEO David DeWalt of Silicon Valley cybersecurity firm FireEye refers to his digital investigators as "cyber SEALs" -- as in Navy SEALs, not the cuddly sea mammals. When big corporations like Sony Pictures, JPMorgan Chase, Target or Anthem suffered malicious hacks and data breaches that threatened their operations and reputations, they called in FireEye.

Fast-growing FireEye is now one of the best-known of a wave of upstart security companies disrupting an industry once dominated by such giants as McAfee and Symantec. The company's Mandiant division has garnered international renown for tracking major cyberattacks and linking them to overseas groups, often with ties to foreign governments. After a slew of prominent cases last year, FireEye ranked first in a recent Piper Jaffray survey of corporate IT officials who were asked which security contractor they planned to hire in 2015.

"In any high-profile cyber breach, FireEye is usually first in the door," said Daniel Ives, a tech stocks analyst at FBR Capital Markets.

But Wall Street isn't totally sold. The company, which made its market debut in late 2013, has roughly doubled its sales in each of the last four years but hasn't yet turned a profit. The stock soared to nearly $100 a year ago after FireEye bought hot security startup Mandiant. But disappointing earnings and a sell-off by early investors caused the stock to plummet last spring.

Since then, FireEye shares have limped along, trading mostly in the $40 and below range. Analysts say the company could be ripe for takeover by a bigger tech firm, such as IBM Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. or Hewlett-Packard Co.

FireEye, based in Milpitas, Calif., gained some goodwill on Wednesday with a fourth-quarter earnings report that showed sales of $143 million, nearly tripled from a year ago, and a smaller-than-expected loss...

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