Cloudflare stock bursts out of gate following already elevated IPO range

Cloudflare Inc. shares burst out of the gate for their first day of trading Friday as the latest cybersecurity company to go public in a space that’s seeing rapid consolidation.

Late Thursday, Cloudflare had priced its shares at $15, above its $12 to $14 range, which had originally been pegged at $10 to $12. On Friday, shares shot to a high of $19.53, and were last up 24% at $18.57 for a market cap of about $5.45 billion. Up to 40.3 million shares are being offered including those optioned to underwriters to cover overallotments.

The company, which specializes in a cloud-based network platform that promises security, enhanced performance of business-critical applications, and “eliminating the cost and complexity of managing individual network hardware,” New York Stock Exchange, under the ticker symbol “NET.”

The announcement comes just a few months after cybersecurity company CrowdStrike Holdings Inc.CRWD, -5.19% went public in June. While CrowdStrike shares are trading 93% above their IPO price, the ETFMG Prime Cyber Security HACK, +0.12% is up 14% for the year while the Renaissance IPO ETF IPO, -0.62% is up 31%, and the First Trust Cloud Computing ETF SKYY, -1.27% is up 19%, compared with a 23% gain in the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.18%

Cybersecurity has become a hot space recently as a buy or be bought mentality has crept into the year as VMware Inc. VMW, -1.43% announced an acquisition of cybersecurity company Carbon Black Inc.CBLK, +0.08% Broadcom Inc. AVGO, -3.17% made a bid for Symantec Corp.’sSYMC, -0.61% enterprise business, and BlackBerry Ltd.’s BB, +0.47% acquisition of Cylance in February.

The IPO received a warm reception even as the company was not without controversy leading up to it.

In August, Cloudflare dropped 8chan as a customer, condemning the unmoderated message board as “a receptive audience for domestic terrorists” following recent mass shootings, and this appears in the company’s “risk factors” section. Cloudflare noted that it was not the first time a customer elicited scrutiny after a violent attack.

Then, recently, the company also disclosed that it may have done business with individuals and entities tied with narcotics and terrorism according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control blacklists.

“Although we have implemented, and are working to implement additional controls and screening tools designed to prevent similar activity from occurring in the future, there is no guarantee that we will not inadvertently provide our products to additional individuals, entities, or governments prohibited by U.S. sanctions in the future,” the company said in a filing.

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