As investors have gotten more risk-averse in recent weeks, the list of tech companies sporting reasonable valuations has grown with it.
Here are some tech stocks whose multiples look quite acceptable following the recent Nasdaq selloff.
Three-Fifths of FAANG
Amazon.com (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) trade at steep forward multiples even in the event that they pare back their spending and focus more on their bottom lines (Wall Street has given them a green light to prioritize growth, and it's hard to blame them for taking advantage. But I digress). However, the three FAANG stocks that do currently have substantial profits to report -- Facebook (FB) , Apple (AAPL) and Alphabet/Google (GOOGL) -- are all trading at pretty reasonable valuations.
Facebook, stung by a scandal that has produced a lot of negative press but may ultimately have a limited impact on its top line, now trades for only 18 times its 2018 GAAP EPS consensus, and 16 times its non-GAAP consensus. Not bad for a company owning two platforms (Messenger and WhatsApp) with over 1.3 billion monthly active users (MAUs) that remain barely monetized, and another with over 800 million MAUs (Instagram) that could still be much better monetized.
Apple now goes for 14 times its fiscal 2018 (ends in September 2018) GAAP EPS consensus, and 13 times its non-GAAP consensus -- a lower multiple than that seen by other top-tier consumer brands possessing strong customer loyalty. And there's a good chance EPS estimates will rise following the release of Apple's March quarter report, since the report is expected to be accompanied (thanks to offshore cash repatriation) by a big expansion of Apple's capital return program.
Alphabet trades for 21 times its 2019 GAAP EPS consensus, and 17 times its non-GAAP consensus. Not bad for a company that's still growing sales at a roughly 20% clip and has de facto monopolies in Internet search and ad-supported online video, and whose profits would be higher if not for the substantial losses still being recorded by its Other Bets segment.
Semiconductors (some of them)
Many chip stocks still look pricey -- after all, the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index is up about 100% over the past two years. But bargains exist.
Mobile chipmakers -- hurt by sluggish smartphone demand in general, and iPhone X sales pressures in particular -- are a good place to look. Audio chipmaker Cirrus Logic (CRUS) , which gets over two-thirds of its sales from Apple, trades for just 9 times its fiscal 2019 EPS consensus. RF chipmakers Skyworks (SWKS) and Qorvo (QRVO) , which continue benefiting from growing RF dollar content within phones and surging IoT shipments, trade for about 12 times their fiscal 2019 consensus estimates.
Qualcomm trades for 14 times its fiscal 2019 consensus, even though licensing disputes with Apple and Huawei are depressing earnings and the highly accretive NXP Semiconductors (NXPI) acquisition hasn't yet closed.
Broadcom, whose empire now covers mobile, data center, living room and telecom equipment products, trades for 12 times its fiscal 2019 consensus. And that estimate could rise if (as is likely) the company makes new accretive chip or hardware acquisitions.
Micron (MU) , which sold off post-earnings on Friday amid worries about a NAND flash memory business that accounts for only about a quarter of its gross profits -- its DRAM business, which accounts for most of the rest, is on stronger footing -- trades for less than 6 times its fiscal 2019 consensus.
Optical Component/Module Firms
Those looking to invest in this space will need strong stomachs, since conditions are hardly great in the near-term. Soft Chinese telecom equipment spending is a headwind, as are inventory corrections and lumpy spending by cloud giants ahead of next-gen product rollouts.
But as cloud data center capital spending keeps rising at a healthy clip, spending on transceivers and other optical products going inside of those data center is likely to rebound. And 5G network rollouts should provide a boost to telecom orders starting in 2019 (though perhaps more so in 2020).
And as Lumentum's (LITE) recent deal to buy Oclaro (OCLR) drives home, this group could see further consolidation, which in addition to boosting the shares of acquired companies will help produce a more favorable pricing and margin environment for the acquirers (echoes of what has happened in parts of the chip industry).
Fabrinet (FN) , which serves as a contract manufacturer for several major component makers, could be a relatively low-risk way to play this space. Its shares trade for less than 10 times Fabrinet's fiscal 2019 EPS consensus, and the company now gets around a quarter of its sales from the industrial and automotive markets.
Those looking to take on more risk in return for stronger potential growth could eye optical firms with heavy cloud data center exposure. Applied Optoelectronics (AAOI) and Acacia Communications (ACIA) are two possibilities. Applied trades for less than 9 times its 2019 EPS consensus. Acacia's near-term earnings are depressed, but the stock goes for about 13 times a 2016 EPS peak of $3.18.
Cybersecurity stocks (some of them)
Security continues to grow as a percentage of IT spend, as CIOs make protecting sensitive corporate data a top priority in the wake of high-profile breaches. And while many security software pure-plays carry rich valuations, some of those with strong hardware exposure are more reasonably priced. Particularly if one values them based on their free cash flow (FCF), which -- due to subscription billings that aren't immediately recognized on the income statement -- can can often be meaningfully higher than their reported earnings.
Palo Alto Networks (PANW) , whose next-gen firewalls and related subscription services continue taking share, carries an enterprise value (EV - market cap minus net cash) equal to 15 times its expected fiscal 2019 FCF. Rival Fortinet's (FTNT) EV is equal to less than 13 times expected 2019 FCF. Check Point Software (CHKP) , which in spite of its name sells plenty of hardware as well as software, carries an EV equal to 14 times expected 2019 FCF.
Then there's the case of FireEye (FEYE) -- a company that's only on the verge of turning profitable, but whose top-line multiple are fairly low, and for which (thanks to some interesting technology and services assets) there has been plenty of M&A speculation. FireEye carries an EV equal to just 3.5 times expected 2019 billings.
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