If there was ever a trade that was crowded over the past couple of years, it was the FANG stocks, or specifically Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, and it seemed like they would never get hit. Yet, that trade hit a brick wall when the revelation that Facebook had the data of as many as 50 million users breached showed up on the tape. Sellers did what they always do: Sell first and ask questions later. Some of the biggest stocks have been hit very hard.
While there undoubtedly will be some change as a result, the technology revolution will march on, and one way to play it safe is to buy the huge mega-cap leaders. Five companies in this group are not only continuing to innovate and grow, but they are also buying back their own stock, and all are rated Buy at Merrill Lynch.
This technology giant has been hit recently on concerns that the iPhone X is not the huge home run that was expected. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) designs, manufactures and markets consumer electronics and computers, and it has developed its own proprietary iOS and Mac OS X operating systems and related software platform/ecosystem.
Revenues are principally derived from the iPhone line of smartphones, hardware sales of the Macintosh family of notebook and desktop computers, iPad tablets and iPod portable digital music players. The company also realizes revenue from software, peripherals, digital media and services.
Apple reported first-quarter results that beat expectations. It expects to make $60 billion to $62 billion in the current quarter, which came in below what Wall Street was looking for. iPhone sales fell from a year ago, despite expectations of modest growth.
With a stunning $252 billion overseas, Apple already has announced as part of a five-year, $30 billion U.S. investment plan, that it will make about $38 billion in one-time tax payments on its overseas cash, one of the largest corporate spending plans announced since the passage of a tax cut.
Between the spending plan, hiring 20,000 people, tax payments and business with U.S.-based suppliers, Apple has estimated it would spend $350 billion in the United States over the next five years. The investments in the United States could give the company a lot of latitude to buy back more shares and raise the dividend.
Apple shareholders receive a 1.5% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target for the stock is $220, and the consensus target is $191.96. The shares closed trading on most recently at $167.78.
This top mega-cap technology company recently reported an outstanding quarter. Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) designs, manufactures and sells internet protocol (IP) based networking products and services related to the communications and information technology industry worldwide.
It provides switching products, including fixed-configuration and modular switches, and storage products that provide connectivity to end users, workstations, IP phones, wireless access points and servers, as well as next-generation network routing products that interconnect public and private wireline and mobile networks for mobile, data, voice and video applications.
The company reported outstanding results and a huge stock buyback as well. Adjusted earnings per share were up 10% from a year ago, with revenue rising 3% and topping consensus estimates. Along with a massive $25 billion share buyback plan, investors should be well rewarded going forward.
Shareholders receive a 3.1% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a $53 target price, and the consensus target is $48.85. The stock ended the past week at $42.89.