While it seems that the world of technology continues to move forward with a constant array of new features and gadgets, and especially in the area of smartphones, the companies that are behind their products and services are also steadily moving forward - at least for the most part. And, for investors who stick with the winners in the tech industry, a nice solid growth in share value is not only possible but probable in a number of instances. In this article, I will discuss some of the top dogs in the technology sector and how each could boost investors' portfolios as it relates to inroads in the smartphone area.
One of the primary movers and shakers in the tech world today is Amazon (AMZN). This company that was once just an "online bookstore" is so much more today. With a market capitalization of nearly $106 billion, Amazon's share price is up year-to-date for 2012 by more than 44%. Amazon's shares possess a P/E ratio of only 0.08, however, the company has brought in over $375 million in income over the past 12 months on sales that were in excess of $54 billion - and this played a large part in the substantial rising of the company's share price.
In addition to its online product sales avenue, Amazon has also expanded into the providing of web services. These can allow access to site developers who can use Amazon's technology infrastructure for the purpose of enabling various types of virtual businesses. This, too, has been a real catalyst in the company's overall growth, as well as its share price increase.
One of the most enticing things about Amazon for its customers is that it doesn't just offer its own products, but rather it also allows a wide array of independent sellers to offer their own products and services for sale on Amazon's website.
In order to become a real player in the smartphone arena, Amazon is currently eyeing up the smartphone chip division at Texas Instruments. The chips that are produced by TI are presently already being used in Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets. As of the end of the second quarter 2012, Amazon had reported roughly $5 billion in cash and short term investments.
Amazon will also likely continue to promote its highly popular Kindle. With a sell-out of the 2011 Kindle Fire product, Amazon has developed additional models - all with a variety of features and at differing price points - in order to appeal to a larger audience of potential buyers. Due to its diverse and numerous income streams, Amazon's shares are expected to move upward by over 17.5% over the next 12 months.
Certainly another technology giant is Google (GOOG). This massive company has a market cap of over $223 billion - more than twice that of Amazon. Google's shares sport an impressive earnings per share of nearly 32, and a relatively aggressive P/E ratio in the neighborhood of 21.
While Google was originally known for its search engine capabilities, other offerings such as advertising, Internet auctions, and smartphone applications have helped the company to grow exponentially. In fact, the company's free mobile OS nearly doubled Google's third quarter growth rate for the rest of the tech industry, and ended up with roughly 75% of the market share for this quarter.
Apple (AAPL) is yet another of the biggies in the technology arena. The company possesses a massive market capitalization that is in excess of $546 billion. Earnings per share reached the 44 mark in the third quarter of 2012, and the company's shares hold a P/E ratio of just above 13. In the smartphone category, Apple's iOS, shipped nearly 27 million units during the third quarter 2012. The firm's market share of its OS is just under 15%, which equates to an impressive 57.3% increase from last year. This is certainly one of the primary factors in the prediction of Apple's 12-month share price target estimated increase of more than 32%.
When discussing tech companies, we would be hard pressed not to include Microsoft (MSFT). With a market capitalization of over $248 billion, Microsoft continues to be one of the clear pack leaders in the tech sector.
As it relates to the smartphone arena, during the third quarter 2012, Microsoft's Windows Phone logged more than 3.5 million shipments, giving this firm a 2% market share for this time period. While that may seem small, this represents an increase of 140 percent from the third quarter of 2011. The fourth quarter 2012, however, will likely be much more focused on Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8. Presently, Microsoft shareholders are receiving a dividend yield that is in excess of 3%, and the company's share price is estimated to rise by more than 20%.
Where there are winners, there are also typically losers - and in the area of smartphone technology, the once-big and powerful BlackBerry platform has again shrunk to only 4.3% during the third quarter 2012. This platform, designed and manufactured by Research In Motion Limited (RIMM), is one of the clear losers in this arena today. And, although there is a new BlackBerry 10 set to launch in early 2013, it is unlikely that this product alone will be able to raise market share by all that much. As of the third quarter 2012, the earnings per share of Research In Motion shares stood at a negative 1.17, and the company's share price is only expected to rise by a tad over 1% over the next year.
The Bottom Line
As the shipment rates of smartphones continue at lightning speed, the amount of data that is being used such as the downloading of apps, the accessing of browsers, the playing of games, and the logging into social networks, is also increasing exponentially. With this in mind, customers are continuing to expect more robust - and speedy - experiences, and the companies that can successfully offer such platforms will surely be the winners.
Companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft continue to make large inroads with the up-and-coming technologies that are used - and spurred on - by consumers in the worldwide marketplace. With this in mind, I believe that shares of these companies can prove to be a good solid investment in both the short- and long-run.