The technology sector is home to many volatile tickers and high-growth stocks. Keeping track of the top movers is a good first step toward strong long-term returns. Here are 10 of the best-performing tech stocks so far in 2017. Start with this list to find the best tech tickers to watch, to buy now, or to invest in for the long haul.

The 10 top-performing tech stocks of 2017

Company

Market Cap (millions)

Return
(1/1/2017 to 6/20/2017)

Forward P/E Ratio

Straight Path Communications (NYSEMKT:STRP)

$2,290

430%

N/A

Applied Optoelectronics (NASDAQ:AAOI)

$1,190

170%

12.1

Upland Software (NASDAQ:UPLD)

$445

145%

N/A

Systemax (NYSE:SYX)

$714

122%

17.2

Ichor Holdings (NASDAQ:ICHR)

$583

120%

10.1

Teladoc

$1,910

117%

N/A

Ultra Clean Holdings (NASDAQ:UCTT)

$707

116%

11.3

Universal Display (NASDAQ:OLED)

$5,580

113%

47.2

Sequans Communications

$303

112%

N/A

Shopify

$7,570

111%

N/A

Data source: Finviz.com.

Some of these stocks are unprofitable today, relying on strong sales growth and optimistic projections for the far future to reach these skyrocketing year-to-date gains. Others are already delivering solid bottom-line results to give their market caps a firmer footing. And these 10 tickers took very different paths to achieve today's terrific returns.

Here's a closer look at the five biggest gainers:

  1. Straight Path traded sideways until April, when the telecommunications asset holding company became the object of a bidding war between Verizon Communications and AT&T. Ma Bell started with a buyout offer of $95.63 per share, but Verizon walked away a winner after offering $184 per Straight Path share in an all-stock deal. The company's rich portfolio of wireless spectrum licenses will help Big Red implement its 5G network plans over the next couple of years.
  2. Applied Optoelectronics announced a strong slate of preliminary fourth-quarter results in January, then crushed its own estimates in February's full report. The maker of fiber-optic networking components continued to shock the Street in May, and share prices skyrocketed on each and every one of these fantastic quarterly reports. The fiber-optic network industry as a whole seems poised to turn a corner here, helped by the 5G ambitions of the wireless telecom sector.
  3. Business software specialist Upland Software, on the other hand, has a tendency to miss Wall Street's targets rather than blow them away. But the company is making smart plug-in acquisitions to strengthen its portfolio of tools for human resources and workflow management, driving the bottom line closer to sustainable profits. Upland could also become a buyout target itself as the enterprise-grade cloud computing sector continues to consolidate.
  4. Industrial and IT equipment distributor Systemax saw share prices surge in March, when the company struck a deal to unload its unprofitable European operations to private investors. That deal resulted in a strong first-quarter report in May, sending share prices higher again. The new Systemax is a leaner, meaner business with solid profit margins and a reasonable path to organic growth.
  5. Ichor Holdings signaled an upturn in the semiconductor industry in April, based on the chip-manufacturing toolmaker's strong earnings report. Two days later, sector peer Ultra Clean Holdings followed suit with its own solid earnings report. If things are looking up for chip-building equipment makers today, you should expect solid results for the chip builders themselves in future quarters.
Businessman tracking a growth chart on his tablet.

Image source: Getty Images.

Rounding up the rest

Universal Display's OLED display technology is becoming a staple among smartphone makers and television set builders. On-demand healthcare services specialist Teladoc is finding traction for its remote checkup tools. Wireless broadband chip designer Sequans is already eyeing the upcoming 5G wave of system upgrades, and the Internet of Things looms as a large growth opportunity. And Shopify is powering many of your favorite e-commerce sites today, with many more to come.

All of these business successes are showing up in each company's earnings reports. Those that are not profitable today have demonstrated a clear strategy to rise above the break-even point someday soon, and investors are taking notice.

These tickers deserve a closer look from investors with a knack for high-growth investments.

Anders Bylund owns shares of Universal Display. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Shopify, Universal Display, and VZ. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.