What does 2012 have in store? We believe the following tech stocks offer investors upside potential going into next year. As always, use the list below as a starting point for your own due diligence.
F5 Networks (NASDAQ:FFIV) is a technology company that provides hardware and software for networking, WAN optimization, secure remote access and file virtualization, among other things. Its portfolio includes popular products such as BIG-IP and Viprion, both application delivery controllers, in addition to FirePass firewall appliances and software such as Application Security Manager and Webaccelerator. It competes with the likes of Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) and other major networking firms. Last traded at $93.48, it is well below its 52-week high of $145.76 with the 52-week low at $80.00.
Revenues have shown a steady increase over the past several quarters, with the last quarter coming in higher by 12.7%. in terms of valuations, the stock shows an industry par valuation with a price earnings ratio of 34.32 , well below its five-year high of 55.66, making it a good point to buy. The stock should continue to provide excellent returns with industry leading technology and solid market position.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is practically a household name today and also among the most debated. With a hand in virtually every software segment, from home to institutional and from home/home office to large enterprise and government sales, the company is a bellwether of the software industry. Although it’s primarily a software company, a significant portion (nearly 12%) of all revenues comes from the entertainment and devices division, which includes the XBox console series. The stock is currently trading at $27.40, within a tight 52-week range of $23.32-29.46, moving above the 50-, 100- and 200-day moving averages, all of which point upward, indicating a possible upward momentum on the cards.
As always, MSFT has a huge cash surplus and a rising dividend yield showing a 38% increase over the last five years, helped by the stock price declines in recent times. Don’t be swayed by Bill Gates’ selling of 5 million shares of stock. It should be a fair estimate to say that it speaks of the float's high liquidity. In spite of the solid growth indicated in the financial statements, the stock is valued at a relative bargain, with the price earnings multiple at a mere 10.15, compared to the industry average of nearly 35.
Concur Technologies (NASDAQ:CNQR) is a software company leading the world in on-demand employee spend tracking across various vertical needs including travel purchasing, vendor payments and reimbursements. The company has over 10,000 customers in over 90 countries, with software packages including Concur Travel & Expense, Concur Cliqbook Travel and Ulysses Travel & Expense, among others, in its portfolio. The company recently bought out TripIt, a mobile travel management firm, for $82mn in a cash deal.
Concur is currently trading near the lower band of its 52-week range ($52.19-42.8) at $45.44, still with a whopping P/E ratio of 349.5, compared to an industry average of about a tenth of that value. The price to FCF ratio is 61.89 compared to an industry aveage of 183.14, making this stock a relatively expensive and, some might say, risky proposition. On the brighter side, however, the company has come out of an earnings trough, increasing revenues and net profit in the last quarter.
Marvell Technologies (NASDAQ:MRVL) is a leading fables semiconductor manufacturer, with a special focus on digital signal processing. Fabless implies that the company does not manufacture the chips itself, thereby making it more of a design and marketing firm. Its product portfolio is targeted twowards the mobile/wireless, storage and networking segments, with a side range of printer components. The stock tends to trade in a narrow band of $13.17 and $22.01 (ttm), last trading at $14.82. the valuation reflects a very competitive pricing with a P/E of 11.8 compared to that of the industry at 80.6, especially when one considers that the EPS iself has been rising in 2011 so far.
While it’s not at its lowest price ever, the stock has taken a serious discount since the year started, and the 50-, 100- and 200-day moving averages are just about flattening out, signaling a possible upturn in prices soon, especially as the switch processor market heats up with Intel’s (NASDAQ:INTC) acquisition of Fulcrum Microsystems. Rumors of a possible takeover bid of Marvell remain, so watch for a breakout.
Corning (NYSE:GLW) is a diversified glass manufacturer with a wide range of high technology product suited for LCD and other display manufacturing, optic fiber cable for telecom and a variety of other industries including life sciences (laboratory equipment for one) and other glass-related specialty products. In addition, the company manufactures specialty ceramics for gasoline/diesel applications. Within the telecom segment, the company has significant internal sales of fiber optic cable to its subsidiaries Corning Cable Systems LLC, Beijing CCS Optical Fiber Cable Co., Ltd., Chengdu CCS Optical Fiber Cable Co., Ltd. and Corning Cable Systems Polska.
The company has been facing tough economic conditions, however, and consumer demand growth for display technology appears to be flattening out. The latest financials are not very encouraging, with gross and net profit declining 19% and operating cash flow following suit, partly on account of a heavy capital spending increase of over 250%. The stock last traded at $15.91, just above its 52-week low of $15.45, with a P/E of 7.54.
Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) is a leading manufacturer of memory products, such as DRAM, NAND Flash and other similar semiconductor devices. The company competes with other major memory manufacturers, in particular Rambus (NASDAQ:RMBS). The company’s two core products, DRAM and NAND, contribute nearly 3/4ths of total revenues, which have missed revenue estimates in the latest quarter on account of sales that dropped 7% in the DRAM segment and 5% in the NAND segment. The stock has been trading at about $7, far lower than the YTD high of nearly $12, with a 52-week range of $6.36-11.95. The P/E is currently 11.66.
Despite lackluster sales, MU offers good opportunity moving forward, as free cash flow has improved substantially in the last quarter and the sales mix has improved to offer a high gross margin. In addition, the court ruling against Rambus (RMBS), which shredded large amounts of documents, in the context of the lawsuit against Micron and Hynix (OTC:HXSCF), should bode well moving forward.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.