October is shaping up to bring more volatility into the market. Hopefully and quite probably investors should be presented with some lower entry points before the month is done. Personally, I am building a "shopping list" of bargains I would love to add to existing positions should we get a decent pullback in the market due to the latest political dysfunction in Washington.
Yes, both political sides are dug in and are likely to take the budget and debt limit talks down to the last minute....but at end of day, the political class will just continue to kick the can down the road rather than deal with any structural issues. This government shutdown is the 17th in the last 100 years, with 16 of those occurring since 1976 ... we should be used to this nonsense by now, but it is still a sad commentary on the state of things.
On a happier note, investors might get the opportunity to buy some high quality stocks at slightly lower prices. Here are three tech bargains currently on my shopping list.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) - It seems appropriate to begin with a company that is one of the few that has a better credit rating (AAA) than the U.S. government. The software giant also just announced that it is increasing its dividend payout by more than 20%. The shares yield a solid 3.4% and the company has tripled its payout over the prior 7 years.
The key near term catalyst for the stock is who will replace outgoing Steve Ballmer as CEO. Speculation recently has centered on the current Ford (NYSE:F) leader, Alan Mulally; which seems to be taken as a positive right now in the market.
The new leader will have many challenges such as making the company a bigger player in the mobile space, but also have some key assets to work with. This starts with the over the $70B in net cash on the balance sheet and two fast growing "cloud" businesses (Azure & Office 365) that already over $1B revenue businesses and growing smartly. The stock is already bargain priced at ~8x forward earnings after subtracting the company's cash hoard. I would love to add more to my position if we get to the $30 to $31 a share range on any market pullback.
Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) - Another large cap tech stock investors should have on their shopping lists if we get an October pullback. The company should be bolstered by the solid launch of the iPhone 5C/5S which is exceeding expectations as Qualcomm is a core component supplier to the latest rollout of the iconic iPhone franchise. It will also be a supplier to the new Kindle as well. This points out a key strength of Qualcomm as it is an "arms supplier" to most of the large OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) in the mobile space.
The company has a solid balance sheet and recently announced a $5B repurchase program and has spent nearly $4B since the end of March to buy back shares. The shares also yield 2.1% after the company raised its dividend payout by 40% earlier in the year.
Revenue is tracking to almost a 30% gain this fiscal year and analysts believe sales will increase in the low double digits in FY2014. The stock sports a five year projected PEG of less than 1 (.89). Given the company's growth prospects and shareholder friendly moves (stock repurchases & dividend increases), the shares are already reasonably priced at less than 14x forward earnings. I will be adding to my holdings if the stock gives up 5% or more in any market hiccup.
EMC Corporation (EMC) - Finally, one of the world's largest storage plays has to be on the bargain shopper's buy list if we do get a decline in the overall market. The company recently followed in the footsteps of Microsoft and Qualcomm by issuing a quarterly dividend for the first time earlier in the year. The shares only yield 1.5% but I would expect further dividend payment growth in the future.
The company owns 80% of fast growing software provider VMware (NYSE:VMW) and also has ~$4B of net cash on the books which combined accounts for the majority of the company's market capitalization. Revenue growth is tracking to a solid gain of 8% this year and EMC should sustain similar growth in FY2014. Earnings growth should be ~10% both for this fiscal year and next.
The stock has S&P's highest rating "Strong Buy" and a $32 price target as well. EMC sells for just over 12x forward earnings, a discount to its five year average valuation (15.0). In addition, the stock has a five year projected PEG of just over 1 (1.04).
Disclosure: I am long EMC, MSFT, QCOM. 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.