Merrill Lynch Has 4 Top Tech Dividend Stocks to Buy for Q4


This top old-school technology stock gives investors a degree of mega-cap tech safety and has a massive $105 billion sitting on the balance sheet. Microsoft Inc. (NASDAQ: MSFT) continues to find an increasing amount of support from portfolio managers, who have added the software giant to their holdings at an increasingly faster pace all of this year and last.

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. Analysts also maintain that Microsoft is discounting Azure for large enterprises, such that Azure may be cheaper than AWS for larger users.

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, especially when you factor in the huge revenue potential from the banks, insurance companies and the financial services industry.

The company recently announced a gigantic all-cash, $196 per share offer for LinkedIn. While some on Wall Street gasped at the huge premium paid, Microsoft continues to expand its product lines and cut its dependence on software sales. While it remains to be seen how the fit will be, the analysts like the overall product synergies the deal brings.

Microsoft investors receive a 2.72% dividend, and the forward valuation remains compelling. The Merrill Lynch price target is $65. The consensus target is $59.87. The stock closed Friday at $57.43.

Texas Instruments

This old-school chip tech company is also a sizable auto chip player. Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: TXN) is a global semiconductor design and manufacturing company that develops analog integrated circuits and embedded processors. The company generates 80% to 90% of its revenues from its analog and embedded processing businesses, which have well-diversified end-markets (autos, industrial, personal/consumer electronics), long product life cycles and limited capital intensity. The company has 6% market share of the auto chip market.

Numerous Wall Street pros see the stock as core large cap holding, and they cite a solid high-single-digit and very diverse revenue flow, solid capital allocation to lever the balance sheet if needed, and substantial room for margin expansion as the ramp up new facilities. The company boasts sustained impressive cash flow over the past several years and has impressively returned 100% plus of that back to shareholders via stock buybacks and dividends.

Given modest capital expenditure requirements coupled with room for margin expansion, Texas Instruments should be able to sustain double-digit free cash flow growth despite slower sales growth.

Texas Instruments also posted strong second-quarter numbers that exceeded consensus estimates, and its third-quarter guidance is in line with what analysts expect.

Investors receive a 2.2% dividend. The $80 Merrill Lynch price target compares with the consensus price objective of $71.95. The shares closed Friday just below that at $68.98.

Four top technology companies that all pay a very solid and increasing dividend. The longevity of these companies is a testament to current and former executives who steered all of them into new product arenas to compete in the future.

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