Investors that are scared right now by the turbulence of the markets need to find the safest sectors that they can to park their cash until normalcy returns to the market. There is no sector safer than the technology sector where there are lots of cash rich companies with great balance sheets. These companies do not have to worry about any capital raises or increased borrowing costs because of their strong financial positions. Here are 3 large-cap names that have the financial strength to survive a bear market.
You might as well start with the largest publicly traded company in the United States. With its market cap of $337 billion dollars, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) took down Exxon (NYSE:XOM) yesterday for the top spot. Apple’s shares have held up well, only losing about 10% during the market freefall. Compare that with the 20% drop in the market over the past two weeks. While other companies are downgrading their earnings estimates in the face of a global slowdown, Apple has yet to make any revisions. Apple continually beats the Street quarter after quarter.
Remember when in doubt to buy the balance sheet. Investors can rest secure knowing that the company has enough cash on hand to weather any market storms. The company’s cash hoard is $76 billion dollars and counting in cash and marketable securities. This number could easily top $100 billion before 2012.
The king of search is another technology company offering outstanding financials and continued long-term growth. The company has been expanding its reach into mobile applications and social networking over the past few years. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has managed to generate an EPS growth rate north of 58% over the past decade. Even if Google just grows at an 18% to 20% annual rate for the next five years, the stock is still cheap since it is only trading at 16 times the current year’s earnings estimate.
The company has been able to produce great results in both good and bad economies. Google blew its earnings number out of the quarter last month and has a whooping $39 billion dollars on its balance sheet. Google has a dominant market share, a product people love, and great financials.
Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) may not produce the high flying growth numbers that Google and Apple do but the company’s balance sheet is on par with both of them. The stock is trading in the low teens, which is a remarkably low valuation for a company with an outstanding financial position and improving numbers. Cisco has $43 billion dollars in cash on the company’s balance sheet. The technology firm has started to return some of this capital back to investors by paying a small 6 cents per share quarterly dividend.
The company beat Wall Street expectations for the first time in a while today with both higher-than-expected revenue and earnings numbers. The $11.2 billion dollars in revenue and 40 cents EPS numbers show that the company is moving things along in the right direction. It is great that Cisco is getting costs under control as expenses shrank during the quarter. It is even better for investors however, that the company produced top-line growth, which is always a positive sign of strong demand.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.