Merrill Lynch Has 4 Old-School Dividend Tech Stocks to Buy in Volatile Markets

February 12, 2016 by 247lee

While younger investors probably would snicker some at the thought of adding the large cap old-school technology stocks to a portfolio, there are two huge reasons to consider them, especially with the volatile, roller-coaster market we are in now. The first reason is they have already stood the test of time, many 30 years or more. Secondly, the pay dividends and have increased them on a regular basis.

We screened the Merrill Lynch technology research universe looking to find large cap, old-school technology companies rated Buy at the firm that also paid solid dividends. We found four companies for investors to consider buying now.

Apple

This remains the world’s biggest and boldest technology company, and its stock is down a stunning 28% from highs posted in the spring of 2015. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) evolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s four software platforms provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services, including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud.

While the company posted earnings numbers that beat fourth-quarter estimates, it missed on almost every other metric, most importantly on product sales, which came in under the 75 million units estimated for iPhone sales.

Top analysts note that many Apple suppliers did indeed pre-announce negative earnings, and they think there is potential risk to the estimates for the March quarter. Most remain comfortable with estimates for 45 million iPhones, and while the March quarter chatter could remain an issue, the long-term story remains in place, and should work well through the balance of 2016 and beyond.

This past week, new reports suggested that Taiwan Semiconductor will produce the next-generation system-on-chip design destined to power this year’s iPhone hardware refresh, beating out longtime Apple partner Samsung.

Apple investors receive a 2.22% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target for the stock is $130, and the Thomson/First Call consensus target is $136.18. The shares closed Thursday at $93.70.


Cisco

This is one of the top mega-cap technology stock picks on Wall Street and perhaps a surprising defensive pick for volatile markets like we have witnessed. Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) posted outstanding numbers this week, and many firms on Wall Street are raising their price targets for the networking giant. Cisco is also one of the 24/7 Wall St. top 10 stocks to own for the next decade.

Last year Cisco won an important contract for the Verizon build-out of the company’s next-generation 100G metro network. While Cisco’s optical business is small as a part of total revenue, this win is seen by Wall Street as a significant endorsement of the investments Cisco has made into its optics business. Many top Wall Street analysts see the data center refresh as a big positive for the company.

Analysts across Wall Street point to an estimated double-digit bookings momentum for Cisco’s Meraki Cloud Services. Many think that Meraki likely will be a $1 billion plus run-rate business this year, with an incredible 50% to 70% compounded annual growth rate. A jump from 40 GE to 100 GE data center switching and next generation security are also adding to the total sales profile and product mix. Some analysts attribute this and other silos away from Cisco’s core routers and switches as the reason for the solid earnings beat.

Cisco investors receive a 3.4% dividend. The $27 Merrill Lynch price target is lower than the consensus estimate of $29.90. The shares closed most recently at $24.68, up over 9% on the day.

Intel

This top chip company has been hammered in 2016, despite reporting quarterly results that topped analysts’ expectations. Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) is a world leader in computing innovation. It designs and builds the essential technologies that serve as the foundation for the world’s computing devices.

As a leader in corporate responsibility and sustainability, Intel also manufactures the world’s first commercially available “conflict-free” microprocessors. The company provides processors for all of the Apple personal computers. It will be interesting to see if it keeps all that business going forward.

Intel is also is regarded as having among the highest shareholder cash returns at approximately 8%, but it has lagged high-growth specialty chip stocks. The stock just now has traded back to where it began 2015, following the mixed but overall solid fourth-quarter results.

Intel’s NAND flash memory business has a strong focus on enterprise opportunities. Many on Wall Street think that the company’s new chip, which is a collaboration with Micron Technology called the 3D XPoint, could be primarily In-Memory compute in servers, and its launch should coincide with Intel’s Purley platform server launch coming this year.

Intel investors receive a 3.65% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a $40 price target, while the consensus target is $36.32. Shares closed Thursday at $28.22.

Microsoft

This is another top technology stock that gives investors a degree of mega-cap tech safety, and has a massive $99 billion sitting on the balance sheet. Microsoft Inc. (NASDAQ: MSFT)develops, licenses, and supports software products, services, and devices worldwide. With an expanding product silo, the iconic software giant continues to advance and expand their global brand and reach.

Numerous Wall Street analysts feel that Microsoft has become a clear number two in the public or hyper-scale cloud infrastructure market with Azure, which is the company’s cloud computing platform offering. Some have flagged Azure as a solid rival to Amazon’s AWS service. Some analysts maintain that Microsoft is discounting Azure for large enterprises, such that Azure may be cheaper than AWS for larger user.

The top analysts believe the company continues to make steady progress with its cloud transition and expect Office 365 and Azure to be solid contributors to top and bottom line for the next several years. While not likely to snag the top slot from Amazon, it could add huge incremental revenue for years to come.

With gaming revenues growing at a huge pace, the Xbox continues to gain ever more fans as the ultimate console to own. Microsoft continues to upgrade the popular device, and many think that it could dominate Sony’s PlayStation at some point.

Microsoft investors receive a 2.90% dividend, and the forward valuation remains compelling. The Merrill Lynch price target is $65. The consensus price objective is $58.89 The stock closed Thursday at $49.69.


These old-school leaders have one thing in common: survival. With the market still very weak, and appearing vulnerable now, they make good sense for investors with an aggressive growth portfolio who see better things down the road in 2016.