Merrill Lynch’s Six Technology Supply Chain Stocks to Buy Now

June 18, 2014 by Trey Thoelcke

We have written in the past how the summer months are the Wall Street conference playground months, and this year is no exception. The good thing about the conferences for investors is that a considerable backstory data and anecdotal information on top stocks to buy often comes out. In a new research report from Merrill Lynch, we found out that their recent technology conference was well attended and a sense of cautious optimism prevailed. Strong secular stories and reports of good demand were plentiful.

In their report, Merrill Lynch focused on six technology supply companies that are rated Buy, and have very positive prospects not only for the balance of the year, but into next year as well.

Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) may be poised for a big second half of the year as bandwidth and latency needs in the Internet are pressing the limits of what is currently available. Merrill Lynch also sees big demand for the company’s Gorilla Glass, up as much as 30% year-over year as new smartphones hit the market. While the company is well-known for being a leading manufacturer of glass substrates for LCDs in consumer electronics, it generates close to 30% of its revenue from its Optical Communication segment. In 2013, the Optical Communication division revenue grew 9.2% to reach $2.3 billion. Investors are paid a 1.9% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a $24 price target, and the consensus target is $22. Corning closed Tuesday at $21.28 a share.

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Flextronics International Inc. (NASDAQ: FLEX) is a company that assembles many components needed in the Internet of Things. While there is a degree of concern that Lenovo could in-source Motorola Mobility, the overall effect on earnings is expected to be minimal. Over the years, Flextronics has restructured and refined its footprint and information systems, and it has expanded into key end markets such as automotive and medical, which has helped to diversify revenue. The Merrill Lynch price target is $12.50, and the consensus is at $11.01. The stock closed Tuesday at $11.16.

Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL) is the ultimate outsourcing stock for technology and more. The company offers electronics and mechanical design, production, product management and aftermarket services to companies in the aerospace, automotive, computing, consumer, defense, industrial, instrumentation, medical, networking, peripherals, solar, storage and telecommunications industries. Investors are paid a 1.6% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target is $22, while the consensus is set at $20.13. Shares ended Tuesday at $19.97.

Sensata Technologies Holding N.V. (NYSE: ST) is a global industrial technology company and a leader in the development, manufacture and sale of sensors and controls. The Merrill Lynch analysts think that the company will de-lever its balance sheet using its strong projected cash flow. Lowering the debt service could make for stronger earnings in coming quarters. The Merrill Lynch price objective is $48, and the consensus figure is at $47.36. Sensata closed Tuesday at $44.69.

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Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS) is a top name in the 3D printing area that has been so hot over the past two years. In an effort to build up its Makerbot awareness, the company decided to team up with eBay to utilize e-commerce to sell 3D printing services. The Merrill Lynch report pointed out that 3D printing remains at its early phase of growth, and they emphasized sales-based metrics over other valuation metrics. The Merrill Lynch price target is at $140, and the consensus for this high volatility name is $127.33. The stock closed Tuesday at $102.30.

Teradata Corp. (NYSE: TDC) is a global leader in analytic data platforms, marketing applications and consulting services, that helps organizations become more competitive by increasing the value of their data and customer relationships. The Merrill Lynch team is impressed with the company’s ability to generate strong free-cash-flow. Their price target for the stock is $52, and the consensus target is $46.31. Teradata shares closed at $44.06.

Technology, as many Wall Street firms predicted, has been a strong performer so far this year. These companies go as the overall industry does, and business is good. Adding one or two of these top names to an aggressive growth portfolio makes good sense for investors.

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