By Andrew Samuels
As the world becomes more and more interconnected, the size of the information technology sector continues to grow. So how can you benefit from this macro trend? I took a look at five of the "best in breed" IT stocks. These stocks have a global presence and maintain significant market share within their respective sub-industries. But are they solid buy ideas? I decided to dig a little deeper into each of these securities to find out.
Wipro Limited (WIT) Wipro is an Indian information technology service stock that provides IT products and consumer care products in India, the United States, and Europe. It is trading at $10.09 near its 52-week low of $8.63. The price to earnings ratio is 22.61, which is well above the industry standard of 10.72. However, WIT’s close competitors Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation (CTSH) and Infosys Ltd. (INFY) both have price to earnings ratio of 26.60 and 20.45 respectively. Furthermore, the five-year price to earnings growth ratio is lower than its competitors at 1.20, compared to 1.39 and 1.23 for CTSH and INFY, which indicates potential value. Most importantly, WIT offers a dividend of $.18 (1.70%), which is greater then its competitors, and in fact, puts it at 4/213 in the industry. For the value minded investor focusing on expanding their dividend portfolio, WIT offers a decent value, but its weaker fundamentals do not suggest much growth. If the company can develop new lines of revenue and increase its EPS, I would change that view to a buy.
Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) For the value-minded investor, CSC has a lot of indicators that indicate a buy status. Currently, the stock is trading at $31.61, which is about $24.00 below its 52 week high. The stock offers a $.80 (2.50%) dividend, which is nearly the industry leader. Additionally, the price to earnings ratio of 6.08 is below the industry standard of 10.72 and direct competitor Accenture (ACN) at 17.12. Furthermore, CSC offers and EPS of 4.99, which is a great value for the current price of the stock at $30.33. The five year price to earnings growth ratio is 0.73, which is below the industry standard 1.02 and ACN’s 1.51. The ratio indicates that the stock is undervalued. While the quarterly revenue growth of the company is only 3.10%, the company has been consistently paying down their liabilities and has increased their assets over the past three years. Likewise, this stock is a buy on the basis of its growth oriented balance sheet, its EPS, and its strong dividend payout.
NCR Corporation (NCR) NCR operates in the computer service industry and is a direct competitor of International Business Machines Corp. (IBM). The stock is currently trading at 18.33, near its 52-week high of 20.97. It has seen relatively high volume with three-month average of 1,971,060. Investors are aware of the stock, so there is not going to be much hidden value. However, the stock has some intriguing fundamentals that need to be taken into consideration. While the trailing price to earnings ratio is 28.97, the forward price to earnings ratio is a much more reasonable 8.34. Using the forward price to earnings ratio, this would make it more competitive per dollar than IBM at forward price to earnings of 12.25. The forward price to earnings ratio suggests a forecasted increase in earnings. Thus, there is value to be found at this price. Additionally, NCR has posted a comparatively strong quarterly revenue growth of 16.20%, which exceeds IBM’s 7.80%, and the industry standard of 8.30%. Furthermore, the five year price to earnings growth ratio of .90 is lower than the industry standard 1.02 and IBM’s 1.21, indicating the stock is undervalued. As seen in the chart below, the stock has been seeing resistance around the 19.00 mark, with strong selling pressure today, despite the close. It is trading around its 200 day moving average, and if it the stock receives enough buying pressure to break the resistance level around 19.00, there could be a breakaway upward. While the stock does not have a dividend, the strong fundamental and technical indicators make this stock a buy.
International Business Machines (IBM) One of the best-known companies in the world, IBM is currently trading at 181.48, just under $9.00, below its 52 week high of 190.53. The stock has been traded heavily, with an average volume over the past three months at 7,345,700. It posts a trailing price to earnings ratio of 14.30, which is above competitors HPQ at 6.02 and the industry at 8.48. Additionally, the five-year price to earnings growth ratio is 1.21, which matches the industry standard, but is above competitor HPW at .73. This indicates that IBM is accurately valued by the market, or perhaps slightly overvalued. Regardless, IBM has fared much better then its competitor HPQ over the past several months and also has a strong dividend at 1.60%. Its EPS of 13.10% and its five year long term growth rate places it 3/7 amongst industry leaders. Despite the higher price per share, the way that IBM has performed in the past and its strong dividend ratio make this stock a solid buy for the value minded consumer, although I would not expect any radical growth figures from the company.
Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) Currently, HPQ is trading at 25.64, which is about four dollars above its 52 week low of 21.50. The stock is being traded around 29,295,000 times a day as indicated by its average three-month volume. The stock posts a favorable price to earnings ratio of 6.02 compared to competitors DELL at 8.08, and IBM at 14.29. Additionally, HPQ’s five-year price to earnings growth ratio of .73 is below the industry standard of 1.21. This indicates that the stock is undervalued. For the value conscious consumer, HPQ issues a 1.70% dividend, which is the leader in the industry. However, the weak cash flow statement from the last quarter is concerning in this volatile market. The company only generated $215,000,000 through July 31, 2011. The quarter before the company generated 10x the amount. This data is reflected through the quarterly revenue growth at 1.50%, which is well below the industry standard of 8.10%. While the company does have a strong dividend at an affordable price, the weak revenue stream and the poor performance over the last three months lead me against buying this stock.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.