When most people think of investing in technology stocks, generous dividends aren't exactly the first thing to come to mind. To be sure, it's difficult enough to find good dividend stocks in any sector, let alone in the fast-changing tech world.
So we asked three Motley Fool contributors to each find a high-yield tech stock that they believe investors would do well to buy today. Read on to learn why they like Verizon (VZ -0.98%), Lam Research (LRCX -2.56%), and Microsoft (MSFT -3.17%).
A high-yielder that outperforms in down markets
Steve Symington (Verizon): With its modest growth and intensifying competition from both fellow telecom juggernauts and smaller carriers alike, Verizon hasn't exactly been the most exciting stock to own in recent years. But as the broader market pulled back hard from record highs last month -- dragging down many high-flying tech names in the process -- patient Verizon shareholders have been rewarded with an investment that's climbing in the face of these headwinds.
In fact, shares are up nearly 33% over the past year (or 39% including dividends), absolutely trouncing the S&P 500's modest 6.4% gain over the same period:
As fellow Fool Nicholas Rossolillo pointed out on Monday, Verizon is nicely poised to extend its relative outperformance as it continues to add postpaid retail wireless subscribers, preps for the expanded rollout of its new 5G network, and continues to improve its balance sheet by paying down debt.
With shares trading at less than 13 times this year's expected earnings and a dividend yielding 4% annually as of this writing, I think Verizon is one of the most compelling high-yield tech stocks our market has to offer.
This chipmaking technology specialist won't stay cheap forever
Anders Bylund (Lam Research): As a maker of equipment used in manufacturing semiconductor chips, Lam Research has taken that industry's recent slowdown on the chin. Share prices have fallen more than 30% lower over the last year as several of Lam's largest customers ran into various roadblocks. From soft consumer interest in smartphones to China-U.S. trade conflicts, it all boils down to slower expansion and upgrades of chipmaking facilities.
However, the industrywide downturn may be coming to an end quicker than Lam's critics expect. In late October, Lam Research CEO Martin Anstice said as much in the company's first-quarter earnings call:
"We are forecasting the December quarter up sequentially," Anstice said. "We would still characterize, based on engagements with our customers in our markets, an outlook for the first half of 2019 that is somewhat stronger than the second half of 2018."
To set the stage for accelerated growth when the industry downturn ends, Lam is boosting its operating budgets by 9% year over year, and three-quarters of that increase is allocated to research and development. That's how a tech company acts when it sees healthy long-term opportunities on the horizon.
You can invest in this promising rebound at prices not seen in a year and a half, along with price-to-free-cash-flow ratios Lam hasn't touched since 2012. With falling stock prices come generous dividend yields, and Lam more than doubled its payouts in March. All told, the yield on this young dividend policy stands at 3% today.
Solid yields, deep-discount stock prices, or strong business prospects -- Lam Research lets you pick any three!
The tech company that won't stop growing
Chris Neiger (Microsoft): Maybe you've considered Microsoft's shares in the past but the company's 1.68% yield, although good, wasn't as high as some of its tech peers. That's understandable, but you should also factor into that yield the fact that Microsoft's businesses are rapidly growing and the company continues to impress on nearly all fronts.
For the latest example of the company's stellar performance, just look at Microsoft's first-quarter fiscal 2019 results. Sales popped 19% from the year-ago quarter to $29.08 billion, and net income skyrocketed 34% to $8.82 billion, or $1.14 per share.
The company saw sales in its productivity and business segment, which includes Microsoft Office and LinkedIn, increase by 19% in the quarter. And sales of the tech giant's cloud computing platform, Azure, increased by a staggering 76% -- both of which prove that Microsoft can still grow legacy businesses like Office while looking ahead to its future in cloud computing.
It's not easy for a tech company of Microsoft's size to grow at this pace, but there's likely room for more of the same. Microsoft is growing it Surface lineup sales, continues to benefit from Office, and is the No. 2 cloud computing player behind Amazon. Cloud computing offers one of the most significant opportunities as the market grows into its $302 billion size by 2021.
Investors should also keep in mind that Microsoft has increased its dividend for 14 straight years. With that commitment to its investors, and the company's current business growth, this tech giant easily looks like a great dividend tech stock for the long haul.
Relax and let these high-tech dividends roll in
Of course, no one can absolutely guarantee that these three companies will go on to beat the broader market. But whether we're talking about Verizon's durable business and admirable stock-price performance, Lam Research's positive industry trends and cheap valuation, Microsoft's multifaceted growth, or the high dividend yields that each of these businesses pay, these contributors believe chances are high they'll do exactly that.