Remember the technology boom, when stocks of a high tech nature could do no wrong and share price growth was in double digits…every month? Inevitably, it all came crashing down to earth. Since then, the sector has grown up a little. Some tech companies even pay healthy dividends. Here we look at 5 such stocks:
Intersection Inc. (NASDAQ:INTX): Shares are trading around $15.50 at the time of writing, in the middle of their 52-week trading range of $8.20 to $23.00. At the current market price, the company is capitalized at $262.68 million. Earnings per share for the last year were $1.38, and it paid a dividend of $0.80, yielding 5.20%.
Intersection’s business of consumer protection services is one of the growth industries in a world where online fraud is becoming big business. Its price to earnings ratio of 11.29 is undemanding when compared to the industry average of 21, and also to direct competitor Equifax Inc (NYSE:EFX) which trades on a multiple of 17.9. This said, its operating margin of 9.33% (from a gross margin of 73%) is low compared to Equifax’s 23% from a gross margin of 60%. However, management has indicated its confidence in the company’s prospects and its ability to control cots going forward by raising the dividend by 33% for the last quarter. Equifax shares yield just 1.90%. In a market where credit rating data, and consumer credit protection will likely become more important, the shares are a buy for dividend investors.
Evolution Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:EVOL): Shares are trading around $6.90, against their 52-week trading range of $6.04 to $8.35. At the current market price, the company is capitalized at $74.62 million. Earnings per share for the last year were $1.71, and it paid a dividend of $0.20, yielding 2.90%..
Evolution Systems is signing customers to its products at quite a pace. Latest is the selection of its Dynamic SIM Allocation solution by a Russian carrier. This follows sign ups in Africa and India. Its strategy of targeting developing economies is starting to pay dividends, and this should lead to increasing dividends for its shareholders. Its operating margin is almost twice that of rival Synchronoss Technologies (NASDAQ:SNCR) – 14.3% versus 8.3% - and this is likely to improve further as business development costs turn to sales in the coming months. Buy for growth and income.
Earthlink Inc. (NASDAQ:ELNK): Shares are trading at $6.50 at the time of writing, as against their 52-week trading range of $6.04 to $9.29. Earnings per share for the last year were $0.45, and it paid a dividend of $0.20, yielding 3.10%.
Earthlink has shown tremendous growth in its internet and telephonic connectivity markets lately. But is this growth soon to blow out? In a market that is dominated by the larger companies, At&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and even AOL (NYSE:AOL), it is hard to see that these three will allow too much trampling on their markets by the far smaller Earthlink. Gross margins at At&T, Verizon, and Earthlink are similar at around 58%, and there is not much difference in the resultant operating margins, either (15.5%, 17.5%, and 18.5%, respectively). Dividends are twice covered by earnings at AT& T and Earthlink, and marginally covered by earnings at Verizon. If the sector develops into a price war, AT&T’s dividend of yield of 6%, and undemanding price to earnings ratio of 8.39 will be more attractive to investors, and easier to achieve. Switch from Earthlink into AT&T.
SureWest Communications (NASDAQ:SURW): Shares are trading around $11.50 at the time of writing, as against their 52-week trading range of $7.08 to $17.83. At the current market price, the company is capitalized at $161 million. Its earnings per share during the last year were $0.22, and it paid a dividend of $0.32 (a yield of around 3%).
Offering internet and communications services regionally in California, Kansas, and Missouri, SureWest operates in the same business space as AT&T (T) . AT&T has a global business, and will find it easier to avoid suffering in an economic downturn than SureWest (particularly as California is the most indebted state in the United States). Investors should opt for AT&T’s better operating margins (15.5% versus 7%), higher dividend yield (6% versus 3%), and realistic price to earnings ratio (8.39 versus 51.73). Sell SureWest Communications shares.
Computer Sciences Corp. (NYSE:CSC): Shares are trading at $30 against their 52-week trading range of $25.60 to $56.61. At the current market price, the company is capitalized at $4.65 billion. The company earned $4.299 per share last year, trades on a price to earnings ratio of 6.01 and paid a dividend of $0.80 (a yield of 2.70%), which is covered more than six times by its earnings.
Computer Sciences clients for its service based business are mostly governmental and corporate. Quarterly revenue growth of 3% may come under further pressure if spending is capped further as governments’ attempt to control budget deficits. Its operating margin of 5.96% would suffer under such a scenario. However, it may be able to continue with its well-covered dividend in the short to medium term, even if earnings are eroded. A buy for the longer term and ahead of economic recovery, but in the shorter term investors may prefer Accenture (NYSE:ACN) that benefits from a more diversified client portfolio, operating margins of 13%, and a dividend yield of 2,40% that is 2.5 times covered by its earnings.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.