Apple Inc. (NASDAQ/AAPL; Market Cap: $435.98 billion) surpassed oil giant Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE/XOM; Market Cap: $406.84 billion) to become the world’s biggest company on February 7. The upward move in Apple shares has been impressive and makes the company the most desirable technology play for investors, especially those who bought at cheaper prices. The maker of hip electronic devices made an astonishing $13.87 per diluted share in its fourth quarter, $3.71 or 36.50% above the consensus estimates.
Apple is an example of why I continue to feel that technology will be the best investment opportunity for growth investors going forward.
The NASDAQ has been the market leader so far in 2012, up nearly 12% and showing some strong technical strength. In late 2011, I said that technology would be a critical area for investment opportunity, as this sector has provided much of the leadership over the last several years. Yes, there are the banks, but you will not see the same returns with them as with technology.
I believe the area that will offer the best investment opportunity is that of mobility applications for tablets and smartphones, as users shift away from the more cumbersome PCs and laptops. Apple is the “best of breed” in my view. The major chip companies such as Intel Corporation (NASDAQ/INTC) will also be an excellent place to stash some capital. Take a look at some of the smaller semiconductor stocks that develop solutions for mobile applications.
Going back to the glory days of technology investing, I see a good investment opportunity in Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ/MSFT), which cracked $30.00 a share on Tuesday to a new 52-week high. My optimism relates to the company’s new smartphones in a venture with Nokia Corporation (NTSE/NOK). Microsoft will install its mobile operating system in Nokia smartphones. Trading at just over $5.00, Nokia is worth a closer look.
Big-name technology continues to look positive; but, for higher gains, you need to look in the small-cap area for the top investment opportunity.
For instance, famed investor George Soro’s Quantum Fund China owns a Chinese information technology (IT) stock as a top-five holding to play China’s growth. The stock must be good to satisfy Soros and could make a great investment opportunity.
Beijing-China-based iSoftStone Holdings Limited (NYSE/ISS, Market Cap: $570 million) provides IT services to clients and globally. Services include consulting & solutions, IT services, and business process outsourcing.
What impresses me about iSoftStone as an investment opportunity is its global reach. The client industry breakdown at the end of the third quarter was technology (30.4%), communications (39.1%), BFSI (banking, financial services, and insurance, 20.7%), Energy, Transport, and public (4.0%), and other (5.5%). iSoftStone is a global company. Global sales at the end of the third quarter were to China (56.8%), the U.S. (26.3%), Europe (7.7%), Japan (6.9%), and other (0.3%).
Please note this is not a buy endorsement, but just an example of a stock to look at.
The key to tech investing is to look away from just brand-name stocks and make sure you are diversified so as to minimize the total portfolio risk and increase your investment opportunity.
While the market bias is positive, I advise you continue to make sure you have some risk management in place, which I discussed in My Favorite Strategy to Protect Your Gains From Market Risk).