Technology has presented enormous growth opportunities in the first quarter of 2012. Since January, the technology sector is up 9.40 percent while the S&P 500 has risen only 5.87 percent. Investors with a strong technology portfolio would have seen their earnings more than double versus a benchmark tied to market performance.
It is not too late to invest in the technology sector. There are still attractive growth stocks in this market and trends in technology are promising. The rise of tablet computers and smart phones is not only generating sales of hardware, but creating new growth in software and application development. Here are the top five stocks to put together technology investing strategies!
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL)
Apple’s explosive growth in 2011 not only propelled the technology sector to record highs, but it also was the main driver for the NASDAQ as a whole. Apple stock has nearly doubled in the past year, rising from $320 per share to over $600. The stock shows no signs of slowing down even after the death of founder Steve Jobs. Apple continues to beat analysts’ expectations even when the market sets high expectations. Apple crushed quarterly earnings estimates for Q4 in 2011 and exceeded analyst expectations again in Q1 2012, beating profit estimates by over $2 billion USD. The stock’s rapid growth looks to continue in the future with iPad sales remaining strong and a redesigned version of the MacBook series planned for launch this summer.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT)
Microsoft is a strong buy. Despite trading near its 52-week high of $32 per share, Microsoft is making a strong push into the consumer market with the launch of Windows 8. Its new operating platform will be used across personal computers, tablet devices, and smart phones, which positions it to compete with rival Apple for control of consumer computing. As Microsoft turns its focus from business users to consumers, it has also bolstered its offerings in cloud computing and web-based business applications for small business. Microsoft seems likely to hit new ten-year highs in stock price during 2012.
Intel (NASDAQ: INTC)
Like Microsoft, Intel is also trading near its 52-week high of $29 per share, but also looks likely to present strong growth in 2012. Making chips for both PCs and Apple devices has strongly boosted Intel’s profits, which they are happy to share with investors: Intel’s dividend yield is 2.96 percent, which could make it an attractive option for investors who need their portfolio to provide income in addition to growth.
SanDisk (NASDAQ: SNDK)
SanDisk’s core business — making hard drives — suffered during 2011 as the tsunami in Japan and flooding in southeast Asia destroyed its production capacity at overseas factories. This has positioned the stock as a real value, trading at just $5 above its 52-week low. If it hits its 52-week high of $53 per share, investors buying today will see a 43.2 percent increase in price. The stock is down over $15 since March, presenting a rare investing opportunity that could quickly vanish.
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG)
Google is an expensive stock — trading over $600 per share — but presents the most realistic opportunity of breaking $1000 per share of any technology stock. Google has collected a massive amount of personal data about its users, and it is finally developing ways to monetize that data through advertising revenue and business referrals. It has also diversified its business with exciting new projects like a self-driving car and internet-wired glasses — inventions that could change the way humans interact with the world and position Google at the forefront of innovation in the technology sector. Perhaps the most interesting venture for Google is its central leadership in the technology of cloud computing.