Despite incredible economic numbers and the potential for second-quarter gross domestic product to be the highest in years, the sword of Damocles continues to hang over the stock market. The growl of the bears are getting louder, and in some cases, with good reason. Many stocks are very pricey and, on a historical basis, the indexes are pushing forward price-to-earnings multiples uncomfortably high.
So what should growth investors do? One good idea is to stick with technology, which as a sector continues to have solid forward growth potential, and then look for mega-cap leaders with lower price to earnings multiples.
We screened the Merrill Lynch technology research coverage universe and found four companies that pay dividends, have stocks rated Buy and offer investors a fighting chance in an expensive investing world.
This technology giant has been hit 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.
One of the most famous portfolio managers who is bullish on the company is the legendary Warren Buffett, who owns a reported and stunning 240 million shares, 75 million of which he bought in the first quarter of 2018. With shares trading at a low 14.33 times estimated 2019 earnings, it’s easy to see why the Oracle of Omaha has a massive position.
Apple shareholders receive a 1.53% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target for the shares is $225. The Wall Street consensus price target is $197.02. The stock closed trading on Friday at $190.24.
This top mega-cap technology company just 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.
Cisco reported a 4.4% rise in quarterly revenue, its second straight quarterly increase, driven by strong growth in its newer businesses such as security. Total revenue of $12.46 billion was more than what was expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters. The company’s net income also rose from a year earlier. Toss in a massive $25 billion share buyback plan, and investors should be well rewarded going forward.
Shareholders receive a 3.02% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a $53 target price, and the consensus target is $49.74. The stock closed Friday at $43.66.
This semiconductor leader is working hard to focus more on Internet of Things and data center cloud spending and away from PCs. Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) designs, manufactures and sells integrated digital technology platforms worldwide.
The company’s platforms are used in various computing applications, comprising notebooks, two-in-one systems, desktops, servers, tablets, smartphones, wireless and wired connectivity products, wearables, retail devices and manufacturing devices, as well as for retail, transportation, industrial, buildings, home use and other market segments.
Intel’s data-centric businesses now account for about 45% of revenues, versus less than 40% three years ago, with its Data Center Group poised to grow by high-single-digit percentage points over the next few years. In addition, many feel that Intel’s cloud hyperscale customers will continue to spend aggressively on cloud computing infrastructure over the next few years. This growing silo of business, combined with the company’s legacy products, makes it a solid and reasonable stock to own for 2018.
Investors receive a 2.1% dividend. The $70 Merrill Lynch price target is well above the consensus target of $60.34. Shares closed last Friday at $57.08.
This is another old-school tech company that offers solid value. Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: TXN) is a broad-based supplier of semiconductor components, ranging from digital signal processors to high-performance analog components to digital light-processing technology and calculators. Some 65% of Texas Instruments sales are exposed to the well-diversified, business-to-business industrial, automotive, communications infrastructure and enterprise markets.
The company recently announced the mass production of its highly integrated, ultra-wideband AWR1642 and IWR1642 mmWave sensors. These sensors support frequencies from 76 to 81 GHz and deliver three times more accurate sensing and the smallest footprint at a fraction of the power of competing sensor technologies. Customers are developing with Texas Instruments mmWave sensors to enable innovation in automotive and industrial applications, including vehicle occupancy detection, people counting in buildings, machine and human interaction and more.
Shareholders receive a 2.16% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price objective is $138. The consensus target is $120.70, and shares closed Friday at $114.80.
These four dependable technology leaders are trading at reasonable multiples, have paid solid and dependable dividends for years and give growth investors technology exposure without unduly high risk.