At the beginning of the year, and now here at the start of the second quarter, most Wall Street equity strategists remain bullish on technology as a sector that will lead the overall markets. They have been proven correct, as the tech-heavy Nasdaq was up 5.04% on the close Friday, versus just 1.57% for the S&P 500.
A new report from UBS updates the firm’s Quality Growth at a Reasonable Price (Q-GARP) stock list for the second quarter. We scanned the list for the five top technology stocks rated Buy. These five top companies stand out: Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. (NASDAQ: CTSH), eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM).
The world’s biggest and boldest technology company has stayed in the limelight with the release of the new Apple Watch. While not generating the kind of in-store mania the iPhone 6 release did, reports indicate over a million orders for the new wearable device were taken by the company. Apple is hardly a stranger to the tech hierarchy, and the company passed another milestone when it was added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average last month, replacing the venerable AT&T.
Many Wall Street analysts say investors need to stay long the stock into first-quarter earnings and through the second quarter. They see strong continued iPhone 6 and 6+ sales, as well as numerous catalysts on the horizon. While they do not see upside to the first-quarter numbers, they do see the second quarter being better than usual.
Apple investors are paid a 1.5% dividend. The UBS price target for the stock is $142. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is at $139.72. The stock closed Monday at $126.85 a share.
Cognizant Technology Solutions
This company provides IT consulting and business process outsourcing services worldwide. Cognizant operates through four segments: Financial Services; Healthcare; Manufacturing, Retail, and Logistics; and Other. It offers consulting and technology services, such as IT strategy, program management, operations improvement, strategy and business consulting services.
While actually based in the United States, the company primarily uses an offshore workforce in India. The analysts feel it is well-positioned for a variety of trends in IT services, and some expect an increase in earnings well in excess of the industry average. Many on Wall Street also feel that the company’s solid investments will bode well for future business.
The UBS price target is $60, but the consensus estimate is $65.19. The stock closed trading on Monday at $61.73 a share.
The company is continuing improvements in the user experience, which is helping the company to keep pace with upstart rivals. eBay’s marketplaces keep attracting new users, evidenced by double-digit growth in active users and items sold. Many Wall Street analysts feel the company has a decided advantage in cross-border shipping of product, something that many other retailers struggle with.
While Wall Street remains focused on the PayPal spin-out scheduled for later this year, better-than-expected fourth-quarter results reinforced the positive view that the eBay is on target to unlock the value of its faster-growing PayPal business, and possibly its enterprise business. That also bodes well for first-quarter numbers, which are due to be released on April 22.
The UBS price target for the Buy-rated stock is $62, and the consensus target is $58.77. The stock closed on Monday at $58.35.
Google has dramatically underperformed over the past year and the technology behemoth may be a great value type buy for investors now. The company is of course the undisputed leader in Internet search, but with a diverse portfolio that includes everything from the Android platform to You Tube, to the Google Wallet for automatic pay, to the new Google Flights tool, the company continues to be one of the most diverse tech companies in Silicon Valley.
With a gigantic stash of cash, and some of the brightest minds in technology helping to drive innovation and growth, Google at current discounted pricing may be one the of the best tech buys for not only this year, but for many to come.
The UBS price target for the stock is posted at a gigantic $675. The consensus target is set at $626.20. The stock closed Monday at $548.64.
The stock got absolutely blasted in January when the company reported solid earnings numbers that beat estimates, but lowered its full-year earnings and revenue forecasts, as it lowered the sales outlook for its semiconductor business. Not what analysts were expecting. The stock is a Wall Street favorite, and many are sticking to their guns, basically saying that trading at current levels, which is 13.71 times estimated 2015 earnings, it is a tremendous long-term value. Qualcomm is a quality tech company with recurring royalty revenue and a strong footprint, so patient investors may fare very well.
The company is reported to be losing chip business, and activist investors Jana Partners is said to be pressuring the company to spin off its chip business. Jana also wants Qualcomm to cut costs, accelerate a share buyback, improve disclosures and refresh its board. Jana is listed as one of the company’s largest shareholders.
Investors are paid a 2.8% dividend. UBS has a $71 price target for the stock, and the consensus target is higher at $76.50. Shares closed Monday at $68.73.
These top tech stocks make outstanding additions to any aggressive growth portfolio. The added plus is they are not trading at 52-week highs, making them solid buys in a very pricey and toppy stock market.