With some market indexes trading at or near record highs, it is not as easy to find solid values in stocks these days. However, if you take a common sense approach to investing, and if you are willing to invest in out of favor tech companies, there are still some great values. The two picks below are major tech companies whose stocks once traded at much higher levels and appear cheap now.
Markets can be fickle and unless a tech company has a hot new product or massive growth, some tech stocks tend to be ignored. That can provide opportunities, especially for patient investors who are happy to collect dividends. Furthermore, both of these companies have growth potential and the possibility that future product developments and other catalysts could drive revenues and the stock price higher. Finally, these companies have excellent balance sheets, which are loaded with cash and this can lower risks for investors. Here are two stocks to consider now if you are seeking value and dividend income:
Jabil Circuit, Inc. (NYSE:JBL) is a leading manufacturer of technology products. Many consumers may not know about this company but that is because Jabil primarily makes products for other tech companies on a contract basis. Many tech companies find it cheaper and faster to have a contract manufacturer like Jabil produce the parts or products needed. This company has succeeded in attracting many of the biggest tech firms into awarding it manufacturing contracts. Even Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is reportedly having it make components for the iPhone. Jabil has a solid reputation and was recently selected as one of the most admired companies by Fortune Magazine.
Jabil manufactures for industries outside of the tech sector as well and this helps to diversify its customer base and reduce risks. It does contract manufacturing for companies in the aerospace, healthcare, automotive, industrial and other sectors. It also does design work, distribution and supply chain management. Jabil recently agreed to buy Nypro, which makes precision plastic products. Nypro has over $1 billion in total annual revenues and this acquisition will further diversify Jabil's revenue base and range of manufacturing capabilities.
Jabil offers a dividend of 32 cents per share, which provides a yield of 1.8%. It also has a solid balance sheet with about $1.03 billion in cash and $1.67 billion in debt. Analysts expect the company to earn about $2.48 per share in 2013 and $2.81 per share for 2014. Based on the current share price, this puts the price-to-earnings ratio at just around 7.5 times earnings. That appears undervalued when considering that the average stock in the S&P 500 Index (NYSEARCA:SPY) now trades for nearly 15 times earnings. While there are typical downside risks like competitive pressures or a possible recession that could drive revenues and this stock down, the downside looks limited at these levels. Investors who buy now will be paid a solid dividend while waiting for a higher share price.
Key Data Points For Jabil From Yahoo Finance:
Current Share Price: $18.61
52-Week Range: $16.82 to $27.40
Dividend: 32 cents per share, which yields 1.8%
2013 Earnings Estimate: $2.48 per share
2014 Earnings Estimate: $2.81 per share
P/E Ratio: about 7.5 times earnings
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is a well-known company but many investors just view it as boring. It is true that the stock has languished in recent months and even for the past few years. However, there is still a lot to like about this company and a management change at the top (in the CEO position), seems like an increasingly distinct possibility. A management shake-up could be the catalyst this stock needs to get investors to take a fresh look at this company.
Many companies have recently seen activist investors push for the board of directors to make changes. Some of these activists want companies to return excess cash to shareholders, some want a break-up of the company, or a new CEO or all of the above. For example, Apple is under increasing pressure to deploy its cash horde, Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) is the subject of a buyout offer, but some investors are pushing for an even higher offer.
Some believe that Microsoft needs to replace its long-standing CEO, Steve Ballmer. Many investors feel that Microsoft has missed major opportunities in the past few years in areas like search, and social networking. Furthermore, the new Surface tablet has not exactly been the latest must-have tech gadget for most consumers. CNBC's Herb Greenberg believes a new CEO could be in Microsoft's future and that could move the stock higher.
Microsoft shares appear undervalued when considering a number of valuation metrics. The stock offers a 92 cent per share annual dividend. This provides a yield of 3.3%, which beats many other investment options. The stock also trades for just 10 times earnings, while the average stock in the S&P Index trades for 15 times and yields about 2%. Furthermore, Microsoft has a rock-solid balance sheet with around $68 billion in cash and only about $14.2 billion in debt.
That kind of financial strength allows Microsoft to invest in new research and development, or to buy the next promising tech company. It also enables it to keep rewarding shareholders with a dividend that has a history of rising. For example, 5 years ago, the quarterly dividend was just 11 cents per share, but it has since doubled to 23 cents per share. With a strong financial position, a generous dividend that has room to rise, and the possibility of a CEO shake up as a catalyst for the stock, investors might be rewarded beyond current expectations with this stock.
Key Data Points For Microsoft From Yahoo Finance:
Current Share Price: $28.09
52-Week Range: $26.26 to $32.95
Dividend: 92 cents per share, which yields 3.3%
2013 Earnings Estimate: $2.85 per share
2014 Earnings Estimate: $3.14 per share
P/E Ratio: about 10 times earnings
Data sourced from Yahoo Finance. No guarantees or representations are made.
Please consult a financial advisor before making investments.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.