Saturday, July 25, 2020

Why I added Crowdstrike Holdings CRWD (NASDAQ)

With Nasdaq trading at its all time high, there's not much low hanging fruits left and I have to look elsewhere for more unfamiliar tech companies and came to know Crowdstrike Holdings. It is not exactly trading at a cheap valuation, with 33.5 times price to sales. On 6 Jul 2020, I bought 10 shares at $109.12 because of I am convinced there are still plenty of growth ahead and it demonstrated a strong ability to secure clients and high retention rate. As a result, the company had a good run, and recently showing some weakness at $100 range, declining from its overbought level. Moving forward, I will be keeing much cash to potentially buy more on dips.

Crowdstrike Business

Crowdstrike is recognized by Gartner as one of a few leaders in endpoint security . Unlike antivirus (AV) protection where it protects an indivdual personal computer or a device, endpoint security detects malicious activities and protects the whole network including servers and devices from a malware attack. It is more frequently used in enterprises and organizations rather than individual or home use. New corporate cultures such as working from home and bring your own device policies in light of the current situation has made endpoint security more relevant than ever. In fact, Crowdstrike has gotten a boost from Covid 19.

Another difference between a traditional AV and Crowdstrike's endpoint security is that the former blocks the intrusion of virus or malware by relying on its signature. Hence if the malware was not captured in it's antivirus database or a software experiences a zero day attack, it could end up firing blanks or left undetected. The latter is cloud based and uses machine learning, realtime monitoring of events to diagnose if a particular file or application is malicious. If it detects a suspicious application, it uploads the particular file to cloud, sandbox it and monitor it realtime for any malicious activities. Hence Crowdstrike is benefitting from sort of a 'network effect': the more clients they acquire, the more signals it gets which results in a better threat graph.


At first glance, it appears that Crowdstrike has relatively high debt. Yet a huge poportion of debt is made up of deferred revenue, which is a plus point to me. Deferred revenue is an unearned revenue  Crowdstrike received in advance which its service has yet to be delivered. It is very common in SaaS companies, when a year of subsciption fees are billed upfront. Once delivered, it will be poportionally recognized and show up in income statement under Revenue.

Strong Growth in Deferred Revenue

A strong growth Deferred Revenue shows that they have managed to secure new contracts which will be delivered during contractual period. Hence, we should keep an eye on its deferred revenue as any signs of slowing deferred revenue will point to a weak sales growth in the next few quarters.


Since Crowdstrike is not profitable yet, there are not much valuation metrics which I can apply to this stock. I will be analysing its free cashflow from Q4 2019 to Q1 2021.

As the revenue grows, so does the Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities, with exception of Q1 2020 and Q2 2020. I digged deeper into the financial report to analyze what could have caused a  negative operational cashflow in Q2 2020. That quarter showed an exceptionally high General & Administrative Expenses yet there is no explanation on the sudden spike in G&A; but management expects G&A to decrease as a percentage of revenue over time. It could be that G&A expenses incurred in Q1 2020 were only registered in Q2 2020 as Q1 shown relatively low G&A.

Percentage of G&A by Total Revenue

I plotted the percentage of G&A by GAAP total Revenue and the results seemed to align with management's anticipation. Hence, it would be fair to assume that the spike in G&A is just a one time off.

The past few years has seen strong revenue growth but management's revenue guidance for FY 2021 of USD 723-733mil  i.e. 53% increase, meant growth will be slower than the prior years.

To value the stock, I will be using a discounted cashflow by extrapolating its growth and then poject its relation to free cashflow through the Free Cashflow Margin. 
Using CAPM to calculate Discount Rate:

E(R)= Rf + β (Rm - Rf )
= 0.69+ 0.91 (5.5)

According to, CrowdStrike has a beta of 0.91, and that gives a discount factor of only 5.695%. I am a little hesitant to adopt a low discount factor for this growth stock and revise it to 8%.

Revenue Growth and Terminal Growth Rate
As Revenue are still growing at high figures, I think that average growth of 30% for the next ten years is conservative for Crowdstrike's growth.

DCF has two major components: forecast period and Terminal Value. As forecasting gets more challenging when time horizon grows longer, a perpetuity growth rate of 2% is assigned with the assumption that revenue will continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace. 

Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities as a % of Revenue
Cash Generated by Operating Activities making up 50% of revenue may seem to be on a high side when Form 10K showed Crowdstrike generating positive cash flow from Operations in Year 2020 with only 21% of Revenue. If we analyze its quarterly reports, cash generated from Operating Activities only started turning positive in 3Q 2020, making up of 31% of Revenue in 3Q 2020 and 43% at 4Q 2020.  Hence its net cash generated as a percentage of Revenue in 2020 was actually marred by first two quarters of negative cashflow. It continued to grow with 1Q 2021, making up 55% of Revenue. Currently, Crowdstrike is in its growth stage and its emphasis is on acquiring clients instead rather than profitability and ability to generate cash. Over time, costs as a percentage of revenue could decrease once they have captured a larger share of the market and lesser costs is required to retain existing clients. (see below)

Operating Expenses as a Percentage of Revenue (quarterly) decreases with time

Operating Expenses as a Percentage of Revenue (Yearly) decreases with time

Purchase of PPE
Past three quarters' average was 13% and I would assume a 15% for 2021 onwards.

Capitalized Internal-Use Software 
The yearly trend showed a modest increase in Capitalized Internal-Use Software and only comprised of 1% of the Total Revenue for the last two quarters. 

Summing up present values= USD 143.28

Potential upside of 43%. (current share price of $100.03).

Whats your take on Crowdstrike Holdings. Would you purchase at current levels? 

p/s Indeed its hard to swallow at today's price to sales of 33.5 times, but such levels simply indicates that market expects strong growth in upcoming earnings. If the upcoming financial results can exceed these demanding valuations, it can still be undervalued.

Anyways, I hope you find this analysis useful or as a starting point to do research on this stock. If there is any particular stock that you would like me to analyse, feel free to drop a comment down below! :)

Thanks again for reading. Happy investing and if you are keen to follow my posts or get updates, do like/follow my FB page here where I will update once there's a new post.

My Transactions

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Arista Networks- riding the cloud computing wave with potential upside

I got to know Arista Networks (NYSE:ANET) through Motley Fool's article back in 2019 as I was browing through its website. Back then, the stock was trading at its peak level of $324 and it rode on the growing demand of cloud computing. I added 5 shares without giving a second thought and 6 shares at $195.77 to average down. Currently it is trading at $210.78 (8 July).

It had a good run since it was listed in NYSE and the stock trended downwards after it reported its first quarter earnings on 2nd May. Although results showed a solid set of numbers with revenue growth of 26%, the drop was attributed to forward guidance on slowdown in orders from tech titan, which was believed to be Microsoft. Despite assuring investors it was a short term issue, it gapped down and opened at $261 the following day.

Earnings forecast continued to disappoint on 3rd quarter with another cloud titan cutting down orders. Despite several quarters of earnings disappointment,  I felt that its current pe ratio of 21.66  is whole lot more reasonable in valuation compared to the past years. Here's why:

Very strong Balance Sheet

Today, many tech companies listed in Nasdaq reported earnings loss, huge pile of debt and analyst continues to be bullish on its outlook. They could be in their growth phase with much growth catalyst. However, Arista Networks is unlike any of these. It has a strong balance sheet with minimal debt and large pile of cash. In fact during uncertain times that we are going through, companies with strong balance sheet stands the test of time and could emerge stronger post covid. Its cash & cash equivalents and marketable securities accounts for more than 50% of its balance sheet because it is able to consistently generate free cash flow. Its cash has been growing every year too.  I remembered reading investment books in the past which describes two kind of stocks investors should own: growth stocks or value stocks. In the case of Arista, you have can have the best of both worlds, tapping onto the growth in cloud computing and trading at relatively attractive valuations.

Its future growth in Data Centre Network & Artificial Intelligence

Under such challenging time, when many companies earnings forecast are in doubt, I think this company could be one of the Covid 19 beneficiary. The virus has actually speed up the adoption in digital transformation. CEO of Microsoft , Satya Nadella said: We have seen two years worth of digital transformation in two months.

It is a matter of time when the world recovers from Covid19 with more face to face interactions, but the new normal will change the way we do business, socialize and leisure.Given a choice, employees would still opt for online meetings to save traveling time and more cost effective. Consumer may prefer to catch the latest Netflix show at the comfort of their home over a cinema trip.

All these meant a rising demand for strong network infrastructure and Arista stands to benefit from the growth. When consumer are obsessed with online games, Facebook streaming and riding on the Netflix bandwagon, it will cause an sizable strain in the Ethernet connectivity, speaking from the server side of things. While the current 400G switches were only developed around two years back, 800G is getting underway - currently in its stage of standards perfection and testing before rolling out. This meant that Arista will stand to benefit from sales of network switches as companies constantly upgrade their switches to accomodate higher networking speed.

Leader in Data Centre Networking

Arista has been stealing Cisco's market share in switch market share in the past years, however, there's still much competition among big names, such as Juniper Networks, Huawei etc. One of the reasons which makes Arista stands out is its amazing operator experience i.e. great customer experience. In the video, Arista's COO mentioned that it only takes 18 seconds for a person to reach a real life Arista staff to assist in his query, and not a machine and they are the not operator assistance to transfer your call to a technician, but are trained support staff who can solve your problems. Checkout the video here:

Secondly, in terms of  Data Centre Networking, Arista has beeen ranked as a leader in 2019 Magic Quadrant for 5th Consecutive Year. To be ranked as a leader means excelling in both vision and execution. This means that they have a clear understanding of market needs, and ability to stay competitive and come out with innovative solutions to be well postioned for tomorrow.


Since Arista doesn't pay dividend, valuing the stock using Dividend Discount Model is not possible. I will use DCF since it generate substantial Free Cash Flow.

I will use CAPM to determine the Discount Rate.

Beta=1.16 (as of 5th July)

Market Risk Premium =5.6%

Risk Free Rate= 0.69

Discount Rate= Risk Free + Beta x Market Risk Premium
                      =  0.69 + 1.16 x 5.6
                      = 7.186

I would use a growth rate of 5 % till 2024 and a terminal growth rate of 2% from year 2025 onwards.

Capex = Purchase of Property Plant & Equipment + Business Acquistions. 
Arista Networks aquired Mojo Networks in 2019 and purchased Big Switches in 2019. As it is more of a one time purchase, I won't be including any projection of business acquisition for 2020 onwards.

Average 5 year of Purchases of PE = $19,254,000. Its 5 year trend did not show an increase in purchases of PE with a rise of Revenue over the year, hence I would set the future Capex to be $20mil.

Summing the all the years of Free Cash Flow per share= $263.48

Since Arista is in a net cash position, and sitting on a pile of cash, I am inclined to include its cash & Equivalents and Marketable Securities to calculate intrinsic value. It was mentioned in its annual report that marketable securities are highly rated securities with the objective to minize potential risks of principle loss. Returns may be low but it's also for the purpose to meet working capital needs when they may require access to liquditiy. Moreover Cash, Cash Equivalents and Marketable Securities were lumped as one category in Consolidate Balance Sheet Data in its AR

Value of Cash+ marketable Securities= $2,724,368,000
Outstanding shares as of 2020 =76,264,000
Cash+ Marketable Securities/share= $35.72

Present Value of Arista Networks= USD 299.20

My Transactions

What's your view on Arista. Would you invest at current prices?

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