RBC Says to Play Tech Safe: 3 Top Picks to Buy Now

Print Email

Even though technology has lagged this year, and looks like it could be a sector that makes sense given the outperformance and valuation of the bond proxy sectors like utilities and consumer staples, there could be some headwinds. While the Brexit worries seem to have faded, they have left in their wake the potential for softer macro scenario in both Europe and Great Britain, and they have also stirred some potential currency headwinds in the form of a depreciating British pound and euro.

In a new report, the tech team at RBC seem content to play things safe. They really are focused on three specific companies to buy now. All are rated Outperform, and all make good sense for long-term growth accounts that can take a touch more volatility.

Apple

This technology giant has had a rough year, down 10% in a market making new highs. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) evolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984, and it is among the leaders in the world in innovation with the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s four software platforms — iOS, OS X, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services, including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud.

The one advantage for investors with a good time horizon is that the tepid numbers the company has posted over the past two quarters and the so-so guidance largely have been factored in. Also some of the big-name sellers like Carl Icahn have been disclosed.

RBC noted in its report that while this quarter should be in line with the lower expectations, the team thinks the potential for some gross margin expansion in the next quarter is possible, and currency headwinds may start to abate as well. They also think the iPhone 7 upgrade cycle could be a positive, and with the overall iPhone declines moderating, and an outstanding valuation, there is support for the stock.

Apple investors are paid a solid 2.35% dividend. The RBC price target for the stock is $115, and the Thomson/First Call consensus target is higher at $126.25. The stock closed trading on Tuesday at $97.42 a share.

Arris International

This stock has been an RBC favorite for some time and is a top small cap pick. Arris International PLC (NASDAQ: ARRS) provides media entertainment and data communications solutions in the United States and internationally. It operates through two segments. The Customer Premises Equipment segment offers various product solutions, including set-top boxes, gateways, digital subscriber lines and cable modems, and embedded multimedia terminal adapters and voice/data modems that enable service providers to offer voice, video and high-speed data services to residential and business subscribers.

The Network & Cloud segment provides cable modem termination system, converged cable access platform, multichannel video programming distributors, programmer equipment, ad insertion technologies and equipment in the ground or on transmission poles, as well as equipment used to initiate the distribution of content-carrying signals.

While the concern over the set-top box arena is valid, many analysts feel that it will be years before demand slows, and trading at a low 8 times estimated 2017 earnings, the stock is cheap at current levels. The RBC team also thinks the deal with Comcast, which is a big customer, is a positive going forward.

The RBC price target $31, and the consensus target is posted at $32.71. Shares closed most recently at $24.56.

CDW

CDW Corp. (NASDAQ: CDW) came back from private equity land with a highly anticipated initial public offering in 2013, and it had gone straight up in price for almost two years until a sell-off started last July. The company provides IT products and services to business, government, education and health care customers in the United States and Canada. It offers discrete hardware and software products to integrated IT solutions, such as mobility, security, data center optimization, cloud computing, virtualization and collaboration.

This company is one of the stocks that RBC has highlighted in the past as having virtually no exposure to China, and it is a very attractive and somewhat defensive small/midcap play for investors. While some of the China concerns may be overblown, the volatility and tumbling stock market there will keep the volatility high. The firm also thinks that the company has benefited from the integration of U.K. IT services and solutions provider Kelway, although CDW has implied numbers for the quarter from Kelway will be down.

The analysts have cited in the past the unique culture and the compensation structure, and the Dell Partnership as among the top reasons to own the stock. They also have pointed out the company has negotiated weak PC sales periods in the past. They also think the tailwind from shares repurchases may not be factored in.

CDW investors a paid a 1.05% dividend. The $46 RBC price objective compares with the consensus target that is posted at $45.30. CDW shares closed most recently at $41 apiece.

These three stocks are very solid picks in a market that is pretty rich. Investors may want to buy partial positions in front of earnings, just in case there is some selling on the news.