J.P. Morgan's Top Communications and Data Networking Stocks for 2014

We have seen a continuing trend as 2013 draws to a close. The major firms that we cover on Wall Street are almost universally bullish on technology stocks, and with good reason. Technology stocks have underperformed the overall market for the past three years. They have pristine balance sheets, low debt and dividends that are being increased at a rapid pace. If our readers do not have technology stocks in their portfolio, an end of the year review may be in order.

In a series of new research reports, Thomas Lee, the Chief Portfolio Strategist at J.P. Morgan, maintains we are in a classic bull market and that we are likely to see further double-digit gains in 2014. Technology is the least expensive sector today on a Shiller price-to-earnings basis. It also happens to be the least liked. J.P. Morgan believes that fundamentally, if investment spending can indeed rise from its currently depressed levels, technology will be a prime beneficiary of the lift.

Here are J.P. Morgan’s top communications and data networking stocks to buy for 2014.

Ciena Corp. (NASDAQ: CIEN) remains one of the top stocks to buy for 2014 at J.P. Morgan. The analysts expect a large ramp up in optical spending to carry through next year. There still seem to be long-term legs to the equipment/network upgrade cycle, and Ciena has reemerged as a share gainer in the space. Investors cannot ignore the risk that 2014 sees sales growth slow after the double-digit growth in fiscal 2013, but the valuation here is appealing. J.P. Morgan has a $26 price target for the stock. The Thomson/First Call target is posted at $26 as well. Ciena closed Monday at $22.85.

Infinera Corp. (NASDAQ: INFN) is another company that J.P. Morgan sees benefiting from the continued optical spending. FBR Capital initiated coverage on the stock last week with an Overweight rating. The J.P. Morgan price target is $13, and the consensus comes in at $12.75. Infinera closed Monday at $9.58.

Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) is also a top name to buy. The company is seen as well positioned fundamentally, given ongoing routing investment and the company’s own product refresh. J.P. Morgan does warn that a management change is a risk in early 2014. Its price target for the stock is $23.50, and the consensus is posted at $23. Shares closed at $21.68 on Monday.

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), once one of the top cellphone companies in the world, is on the comeback trail, and J.P. Morgan likes the risk/reward. The firm sees valuation and earnings upside from both increased demand and improved royalty capture. The J.P. Morgan price target for the stock is $10.80. The consensus objective is at $7.67, though Nokia closed Monday at $7.79.

Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) is another former Scandinavian tech leader fighting to return to prominence. The J.P. Morgan team believes the company should continue to see margin improvement as network modernization work rolls out of the mix. However, the U.S. LTE build-out slowdown represents a risk that investors need to be aware of. The J.P. Morgan price target is $13.50, and the consensus figure is at $13.77. Shares closed Monday at $11.93.

Cyan Inc. (NYSE: CYNI) has posted net losses two quarters in a row following its initial public offering. In addition, management has materially lowered expectations for 2014 growth. On the positive side, the stock now discounts a lot of bad news and may provide solid upside as business improves. The J.P. Morgan price target is $8, and the consensus is at $6.75. Cyan closed at $4.35 on Monday.

Between the need for the 4G LTE build-out in the United States and the incredible demand for bandwidth and latency going forward, all these top stocks to buy are in the mix for business in 2014. The good news for investors is that most of them are priced well and stand a solid chance of being higher in price at the end of 2014.

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