Thematic investing: investing in technology

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Investments

Our next instalment in the thematic investment series looks at which tech stocks to buy. Investing in technology can pay dividends – but it can also prove tricky too. 

Thematic investing: tech stocks 

Investing in technology: what you need to know 

Technology is an all-encompassing term. It covers an enormous range of sectors. Everything from your smartphone to electric vehicles to productivity, and more besides sits within the technology sphere. Even companies like Disney, with its Disney+ streaming service, or Amazon with its Amazon Web Services offer, are considered tech stocks. 

The best tech stocks to buy will be entirely up to you and what your investing or trading goals are. Be aware that, because of the sector’s diversity, there are many different types of company with differing compositions, market caps and characteristics within the technology space. 

Some might be multi-billion-dollar behemoths like the FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google). Others might be market disruptors like Uber or Spotify. Some firms will be well established with vast cash reserves. Others might up-and-comers might be burning through capital but with rapid share appreciation to match.  

That said, tech stocks are amongst some of the best performers. Indices dedicated solely to technology and related firms offer some considerable potential returns for instance. The Nasdaq 100, listing the top 100 US tech stocks for example, is up over 43.8% as of May 25th 2021. The Dow Jones US Technology Index is also showing similar numbers, up 47.92% year-to-date. 

Remember the risks when searching for tech stocks to buy 

Technology is all about innovation. It never stands still. Because of that, even the best tech stocks can be a risky investment. Huge capital investment is needed to ensure a company’s solutions and products remain at the head of the pack. A company can disappear completely if a rival develops a product or service consumers and the market prefer. 

Some tech firms’ valuations have been questioned too. We mentioned Uber earlier. That’s a company that has admitted it may never be profitable. Is that worth the risk for investors?  

Then there are general economic patterns to consider. When times are tough, luxury items like brand new smartphones may not sell well. Thus, the manufacturer’s share price may fall, along with companies supply components and raw materials needed to build a new smartphone.  

When times are good, and consumers have more cash to spend, there might be higher demand.  

Inflation woes play a part too. As recently as late May 2021, we’ve seen tech-sell offs generated by fears that inflation may bite into tech manufacturers and providers’ profitability. This was triggered by a spike in bond yields and general uncertainty around the economic picture caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic. 

All investing and trading is risky. Investing in technology can prove doubly so. Only invest or trade if you are comfortable with any potential losses. Do your research and understand how to pick stocks before committing any capital.  

What are some of the best tech stocks to watch? 

Again, what is the best stock will depend entirely on your individual budget and circumstances. Consider a wide range of different sectors and industries covered under the tech umbrella.  

Diversification, i.e., getting exposure to several different industries, stocks, and sectors, is used by investors to mitigate risk. If one stock performs badly, the theory goes, the other stocks or assets in your portfolio can help protect against that by performing well. 

With that in mind, the below may be tech stocks to buy if they meet your individual criteria. 

AMD 

AMD makes semiconductors and micro-components used to build everyday essentials like phones, laptops and so on. Its main product line covers graphics cards, microprocessors and motherboard chipsets.  

As of May 25th, 2021, AMD stock was up just over 47%. It also looks like it has a bright future. Latest quarterly earnings saw AMD revenues expand 93% year-on-year, reaching $3.45 billion. Operating income for the quarter was $662 million while net income was $555 million – a 243% increase from the prior year. 

We mentioned earlier how technology companies must invest heavily to keep up with the pace of innovation. In the case of AMD, its investments are a form of protection. Due to intense demand, chipset raw materials are at a premium right now. To avoid shortages, AMD recently inked a $1.6bn wafer supply deal with GlobalFoundaries.  

GlobalFoundaries will be supply necessary components between 2022 and 2024 under the terms of the deal. AMD is now developing second and third generation Epyc server chips – a product of high interest to AMD customers. 

According to the Analyst Recommendations tool on the Marketsx trading platform AMD is rated as a buy by 52.9% of analysts. 

Apple 

Apple is one of the most recognisable brands on the planet. As tech companies go, they don’t come bigger than the Californian company. Its clean-cut branding combined with a reputation for innovation and useability make its products hot property. Because of that, Apple often makes an appearance amongst the best tech stocks. 

Apple’s latest round of earnings, coming in April 2021, saw the company enjoy yet another blowout quarter. Companywide sales were up 54% y-o-y. iPhone sales shot up 65.5% during this period, spurred on by the launch of the new iPhone 12. Mac and iPad sales outperformed even Apple’s flagship product, notching impressive 70.1% and 79% annualised growth. 

In monetary terms, total revenues were up 53.7%, totalling $89.58 billion. Earnings per share (EPS) beat expectations at $1.40 vs. the estimated $0.99. 

Apple stock is up across the year. It was trading for around $80 in May 2020. Flash forward to May 2021, and AAPL is exchanging hands for about $126. Analyst forecast is bullish with analyst consensus heavily weighted towards buy. 

Xero 

ASX-listed Xero is carving out a position as a global leader in cloud accounting.  

In its 2021 financial year, the Wellington, New Zealand-based software supplier, managed to expand its subscriber base by 20% to 2.74 million worldwide. Stand out geographies included: 

  • 17% growth in UK customers – 720,000 subscribers 
  • 18% growth in US customers – 285,000 subscribers 
  • 40% growth in Rest of the World customers – 175,000 subscribers 

Growth is carefully pared with stock performance. It’s something to consider when investing in technology stocks. Xero’s average annual 25.1%, which ranks better than 85% of the companies in Software industry, according to analysts GuruFocus.  

The 3-year average Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) growth is 86% – better than 97% of software companies profiled by GuruFocus. Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization 

Xero’s future is entirely focussed on expansion. It regularly tells investors it has a preference to re-invest cash generated to drive long-term shareholder value. But because it reinvests so much, Xero may not have major profitability going forward. Something to consider. 

Investing in technology: reiterating the risks 

When looking at tech stocks to buy or trade, consider the risks. While you can make money, there is a risk of capital loss. Do your research before committing any capital and only invest if you are comfortable with any potential losses. 

 

Coinbase says Q1 earnings jumped to $1.8bn ahead of Nasdaq direct listing

Equities
Investments
IPO
  • Coinbase says revenues up nine-fold in Q1 
  • Company updates investors ahead of direct listing on Apr 14th 
  • Net income seen at $730m to $800m 

Coinbase estimated first quarter revenues rose by nine times year-on-year to $1.8bn as the company provided updated guidance for 2021 ahead of its stock market debut next week. 

In Q1, management estimated the number of verified users rose to 56 million with active users – so-called monthly transacting users (MTUs) – of 6.1 million 

Assets held on the platform was estimated at $223 billion, representing 11.3% of crypto asset market share, which currently stands at about $2 trillion. This includes $122bn from institutions 

Trading volumes rose to $335 billion, while total revenue jumped nine-fold to approximately $1.8 billionNet income surged from £32m last year to somewhere in the range of $730 million to $800 million. The company also reported adjusted EBITDA of approximately $1.1 billion. 

Coinbase also provided guidance for the rest of the year based on three scenarios based on the number of monthly transacting users (MTUs). 

In its SEC filing in February the firm reported total revenues rose to $1.3bn in 2020 from $533k in 2019, while net income rose to +$322k last year vs a loss of $30k in the prior year. The number of users had risen to 43m. We looked at this filing in detail here.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, DA Davidson raised its price target on the stock to $440 from $195 previously. 

Whilst Coinbase has clearly been riding the crypto boom to date, the reliance on the crypto market and on prices makes this stock as risky as the crypto assets it deals in. 

Read our 5 things we learned from the Coinbase IPO

Salesforce a buy on $27.7bn Slack acquisition?

Investments

Cloud software pioneers Salesforce (CRM) is to buy work-chat service supplier Slack (WORK) for $27.7bn.

Slack will be the biggest acquisition that Marc Benioff-owned Salesforce has made to date. Shares dropped by around 5% upon the news, due to the size of the deal.

Slack shareholders will receive $26.79 in cash and 0.0776 shares of Salesforce common stock under the deal. Salesforce agreed to pay a 55% premium to Slack stock’s November 24th 2020 closing price.

Based on the size of the deal, and its potential making Slack a major player in the business comms stakes, our rating on the Marketsx platform, based on analyst’s insights, is a strong buy.

At the time of writing, Salesforce avg. price target is now $291.53 – an upside of 21%.

The deal is to give both Slack and Salesforce a shot a levelling the playing field against current sector leader Microsoft. The Seattle-based software giant has been busy in lockdown, with Teams seemingly becoming the de facto software intra-business communications choice during the pandemic.

Microsoft can, however, boast a marketing budget to make Croesus blush, and already has elephantine brand recognition. Additionally, it has bundled Teams in its Office business software packages, which makes its ubiquity alongside other day-to-day standard apps like Word and Excel, less than surprising.

Slack, which launched in 2014, hasn’t had the backing that Teams can boast. However, governments and companies have been switching over to it in larger numbers as they seek out a nimbler alternative to email. Is email really in danger of becoming electronic snail mail? Probably not, as Outlook is pretty much industry standard, but with Salesforce’s backing and investment, Slack may see larger widescale adoption.

For instance, Salesforce could pull a Microsoft and package Slack alongside its other business software options to mirror Office 365.

Salesforce is casting a wider net of acquisitions. It picked up Tableau Software, a data analytics specialist, last year for cool $15.7bn and was even in the running to secure LinkedIn in 2016 before Microsoft hoovered up the social media platform.

Work-from-home enablers are particularly hot right now. But a vaccine is knocking on the door, with the UK approving the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for mass roll out this week, so will people still be working from home as “normality” reasserts itself? Probably. The benefits are being widely felt, and there’s a general feeling amidst workers of all stripes that home working, with all its added flexibility, is the future.

Certainly, this all plays into Benioff’s vision of a world governed by cloud-based computing. Software as a service is very quickly becoming the model for developers and suppliers globally, so it stands to reason Salesforce is moving to shorten the gap between itself and Microsoft.

Salesforce reported October quarter earnings and revenue that topped analyst estimates following on from big investment gains on Snowflake stock.

As such, Salesforce earnings rocketed to $1.74 a share. Its gains from investments totalled 86% in latest earnings, the company said, with revenues rising 20% to hit $5.42bn.

Slack is due to report its Q3 2021 earnings after market close on Wednesday 9th December.

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