Oppenheimer is of the opinion that some underperforming technology companies could attract even more activist investors attention. Dan Loeb is accomplishing things at Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), as is Carl Icahn (maybe) with his proposal for Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) shareholders. To judge which companies in their universe might attract activist intervention, Oppenheimer used the following five categories as a gauge: operational efficiency, allocation of capital, free cash flow generation, distinction among business units and management’s overall execution.
Here are the stocks to buy at Oppenheimer and a possible activist target.
Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) is the stock that Oppenheimer thinks could be a likely activist target. While acknowledging macro factors are no doubt at play, Juniper’s results generally have lagged the peer group. They also believe execution has been less than stellar and needs to be improved. The Thomson/First Call price target for the stock is $19. Juniper carries only a Perform rating on the firm.
Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) is a top stock to buy at Oppenheimer. Cisco Systems holds a net $30 billion in cash (46.3 billion in cash and 16.3 billion in debt), which represents 24% of the market capitalization, even after the recent 15% surge in price. With levered free cash flow of 8.5 billion per annum and an A+ credit rating, Cisco has ample scope to issue more long-term debt at very low rates. The consensus price target for this market leader is $26, and shareholders are paid a 2.80% dividend.
EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) rallied last week after the company raised its share buyback program from $1 billion to $6 billion. The program should be completed by Dec. 31, 2015, and EMC expects to repurchase shares worth $3.5 billion by the end of second quarter of 2014, of which $500 million has already been spent this year. The company also announced the initiation of a $0.10 per share quarterly dividend. The consensus price target for the storage leader is $29.
Ruckus Wireless Inc. (NYSE: RKUS) spiked up last week on huge volume. The stock also caught an upgrade to Buy at Needham. The consensus price target is at $19.50. Hitting that price target would represent a gain for investors of more than 50% from current levels.
Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP) develops, markets and supports a range of software, as well as combined hardware and software products and services, for information technology (IT) security worldwide. Given the rash of security breaches, this may be a top stock to buy. The consensus price target for the stock is $55.
Fortinet Inc. (NASDAQ: FTNT) wraps up the top stocks to buy at Oppenheimer. The company has a wide range of hardware and cloud-based options, coupled with simple pricing models and feature-rich technology, which gives organizations the ability to deploy the right solution for their requirements. The consensus price objective for the stock is $22.
As a reminder, 24/7 Wall St. has previously pointed out that there could be the formation of an activist investor bubble.
Even if activist investors do not come calling, technology stocks from a price standpoint may be the most compelling value for investors. Budgets at major corporations will open up if the economy starts to improve. With many strategists calling for just such an improvement in the second half of this year, now may be the time to add quality stocks like these to a portfolio.