Technology affects almost every area of modern life, and its far-reaching impact is only becoming more pronounced as a growing global middle class utilizes a range of new devices and services and the world becomes increasingly connected. With these big trends underway, the technology sector is home to stocks with some of the best growth potential on the market, and selecting strong tech companies can have a huge positive impact on your portfolio over time.
With that in mind, we asked three Motley Fool contributors to identify a stock that deserves consideration for your portfolio this September. Here are the companies they picked.
A leader in outsourcing services
Companies of all shapes depend on EPAM to help them create custom applications or develop full software products that help keep their businesses humming. Those products are often considered to be mission-critical and are complex to create, so once a new client learns to trust EPAM, it tends to stay very loyal. In fact, EPAM's top 10 clients have been buying from the company for an average of nine years.
EPAM has also done a great job at diversifying its customer base so it's not overly dependent on any one sector of the economy. The company's clients come from a variety of industries, like media and entertainment, life sciences and healthcare, travel, financial services, and more.
What investors should love about this business model is that the need for EPAM's services is constant, so the company has tremendous insight into its future revenue and profit streams. EPAM estimates that almost 90% of its full-year revenue is predictable at the start of the year, which should give investors high confidence when management gives its guidance. That should bring a smile to investors' faces as the company is projecting currency-neutral revenue growth of 26% this year and earnings per share of at least $2.97. I think those numbers are highly achievable, as over the last five years EPAM's revenue growth rate has actually been closer to 33%.
Over the longer term, Wall Street projects that EPAM will grow its profits by 20%, which is an impressive number for a company that is trading at only 19 times next year's earnings estimates. That makes EPAM Systems a great tech stock to consider buying.
A security standout
Tim Brugger: In an industry noted for its wild stock price fluctuations, data security provider Check Point Software Technologies (NASDAQ:CHKP) bucks the trend. CEO Gil Shwed has no interest in forgoing bottom-line growth strictly to fund revenue gains of 30% or even 40% -- as Check Point's peers do.
Last quarter was typical of what to expect from Check Point, which is why it's an ideal choice in September for slightly more conservative investors not interested in stock price roller-coaster rides. Check Point reported $423 million in sales last quarter, good for a 7% year-over-year improvement. Better still -- and a significant difference relative to Check Point's peers -- not only was the company profitable, but earnings per share (EPS) jumped 8% compared to 2015's Q2, and 10% after excluding one-time items.
Digging a bit deeper exposes what differentiates Check Point even further from its "spend at all costs" competitors. Check Point's ongoing expense management was a key to its posting such strong EPS growth, even beyond its revenue gains. That's in contrast to Palo Alto Networks (NYSE: PANW), whose total operating expenses last quarter soared to 86% of total revenue. Check Point, on the other hand, spent 52% of its $423 million in sales on overhead. Check Point's conservative management philosophy isn't right for all investors: Some are willing to take more risk on a stock that just may deliver "the next big thing."
But for buy-and-hold investors who appreciate a strong management team, fundamentals that consistently deliver, and a stock that is cheap at just 15 times future earnings, Check Point is a sound tech stock to invest in this September.
An industry leader with a strong dividend
Keith Noonan: Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) stock has gained just 18% over the last five years, lagging far behind the S&P 500's increase of roughly 82% and the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index's increase of roughly 114%, but the leading mobile chipmaker's comparatively slow growth, strong dividend profile, and opportunities in emerging segments could point to a buying opportunity.
The company's sales and earnings have fallen over the last two years due to stagnation in the mobile market and turbulence in the company's licensing business, and concerns remain about competition from third-party rivals and mobile original equipment manufacturers increasingly opting to produce their own chips, but Qualcomm looks poised to be a major beneficiary of the growth in device connectivity known as the Internet of Things (IoT), with a recent survey from consulting group LexInnova identifying the company as the leader in high-value IoT patents. The company's expertise in low-power-consumption chips should help it ride momentum as the need for modems and sensors increases.
On the returned-income side of things, Qualcomm has a great history of dividend growth, and the stock boasts a roughly 3.5% yield. The company has delivered payout increases for 13 years running, and its dividend has grown 146.5% over the last five years and 341.7% over the last 10 years, so investors can feel confident counting on continued payout increases.
Priced at roughly 14 times forward earnings estimates, Qualcomm is a potential value play, and packs an attractive income component that strengthens the case for holding the stock long term.