Technology stocks haven't escaped the broad market sell-off this month. From their recent September peak, the Nasdaq 100 ETF (QQQ) and the S & P Technology Select SPDR (XLK) have fallen 5.17% and 5.51%, respectively. But, October weakness isn't uncommon and oversold short term stochastics could suggest investors have an opportunity to buy ahead of a rally.
The best technology stocks for October:
Across the Seasonal Investor large cap universe, four technology stocks have robust seasonality in the month of October. Each has finished the month higher in 9 of the past 10 years, suggesting something other than chance drives returns into fall.
|Symbol||Sector||# Years Up (of 10)||Oct. Avg.||Oct. Median||Std. Deviation|
The first is Apple Computer (AAPL), which has dropped to $630 from $705 following the launch of its new iPhone 5. The 10.6% drop is twice as bad as the broader Nasdaq 100. However, a number of catalysts could support prices as we move into fall, including iPhone 5 sales and iPad mini and iTV rumors. Likely, a more compelling reason may be its relatively cheap valuation. Analysts expect Apple to generate $53.44 in EPS in 2013, up from $52.50 60 days ago - giving the company a forward PE ratio of less than 12. Of course, it doesn't hurt the company is debt free and sitting on just shy of $30 per share in cash.
The second stock is Automatic Data Processing (ADP). The payroll processing company is a big beneficiary of holiday hiring. Given the ASA weekly staffing index is 5.4% higher than this time last year and the National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales growth of 4.1%, demand for the company's services should be strong. Analysts expect EPS of $3.21 in 2013 and shares yield a respectable 2.7%.
The third stock passing our seasonal screen is F 5 Networks (FFIV), which has dropped more than 13% from recent highs. The exit of Cisco (CSCO) from its primary market for load balancing equipment puts $160 million in sales back on the table for F 5 and its competitors. With F 5 controlling roughly 48% of the market, it's likely the company will land its fair share of business. But, investors have worried discounts geared to win this business could weigh on margins. Analysts have dropped 2013 EPS expectations to $5.17 from $5.38 90 days ago, which gives F 5 a forward PE of 18.7. The company, which has beaten expectations in 3 of the past 4 quarters, is debt free with $6.58 per share in cash. A strong balance sheet and market leading positions suggests short term margin worries may prove just that - short term.
The last stock on the list is Oracle (ORCL), which arguably boasts one of the most complete enterprise service software offerings available. Analysts expect EPS of $2.91 in 2014, producing a forward PE of just 10.7 - very near its 5 year PE low of 9. The acquisition hungry company has $31.6 billion in cash, giving it plenty of room to maneuver.
For investors inclined to believe the recent consolidation is a buy opportunity, it may be just the time to add some shares of these four companies.