3 Attractive Technology Stocks for the Long Haul

Includes: AAPL, GOOG, IBM
by: Bachar Samawi

Stock markets around the world tumbled on Thursday, with the U.S. Dow Jones Industrial average dropping 3.68% (419.68 points) to close at 10,990.58, The Nasdaq index dropped even more, losing 5.22% (131.05 points) to close at 2,380.43. As the market moves to possibly establish a double bottom and test previous lows reached last week, this may present a good long term buying opportunity for three innovative technology companies

IBM, which is over 100 years old -- established in 1910 -- continues to lead in innovation, vision and management. Most recently, IBM announced it is pursuing computer chips that behave like brains, and has produced two such prototypes. These adaptive, cognitive learning chips can revolutionize future technology devices from computers to cell phones.

Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ) recently announced that it is exiting the personal computer business, following in IBM's footsteps. The difference is that IBM made such moves more than six years ago, in 2005. Furthermore, it is looking like HP is following IBM's business model. When a major competitor follows IBM's business model years after the fact, it validates the vision and wisdom of IBM, which is most likely to maintain its lead.

IBM closed on Thursday at 163.83 , with an associated dividend yield of about 1.8% and a P/E ratio of about 13.3. In its most recent quarter, IBM reported earnings of $3.09 per share, handsomely beating estimates of $3.03 per share. Its revenues are expected to grow to $112.2 billion in 2012.

Although current markets are volatile and there is fear of recession, IBM is an attractive long term investment at these prices given its attractive P/E ratio, reasonable dividend yield given low interest rates, and its history of continuous creativity and innovation.

Similarly, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is leading the competition. Hewlett Packard's exit from consumer products is a surrender to Apple. Apple has managed to prevent its products from becoming generic, hence retaining valuable margins. In addition, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) recent announcement of its purchase of Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) is also a validation of Apple's business model. Apple has managed to overcome nine hurdles during the past several decades, enabling it to become one of the largest companies in the world in market capitalization.

Apple shares closed on Thursday at $366.05, yielding a P/E ratio of 14.48. In its most recent earnings release, Apple reported earnings of $7.79 per share, beating analyst estimates of $5.83 per share by more than 33%. If Apple continues to beat current analyst estimates, its P/E ratio will prove to be substantially lower. In the year ending September 2012, Apple is expected to generate revenues in excess of around $133 billion. Most importantly, Apple is attractive due to its creativity and innovation, and its ability to introduce blockbuster products on a regular basis.

While Apple is leading in consumer products, Google is leading in the internet arena. Although internet search is Google's bread and butter, Google is also active in several additional sectors. Google is now also trying to take a bite out of apple through its purchase of Motorola Mobility. Although such a purchase may be viewed as weakness by some analysts, whereby Google will play catch-up to Apple, we believe Google will continue to dazzle.

Google stock closed on Thursday at $504.88. Google's current P/E ratio of 18.21 is quite attractive given Google's expected sales growth of over 30% for 2011. Google's stock price is currently trading substantially below its July high of $627.50.

IBM, Apple and Google certainly are not immune to a severe slowdown in the economy. Given the current negative market sentiment, an investor in such stocks can purchase out-of-the-money puts to hedge against an unforeseen deterioration in the broader market and economy. However, when approaching such investments from a long term perspective, such leading, creative and innovative companies would be expected to continue to shine.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.