Technology trends move quickly, but investors have to try to look past the cyclical demand to find businesses with enduring competitive advantages. With that broader focus in mind, we asked a few Motley Fool contributors to offer up stock ideas that look attractive over the long term. Read on to see why Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN), Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), and Yandex (NASDAQ:YNDX) topped that list.
Demitri Kalogeropoulos (Garmin): Demand can turn on a dime for consumer electronics, but investors don't have to worry much with shares of Garmin. The GPS device specialist used to be known mainly for its automotive navigation devices, which have since been displaced. It also had a few hit fitness trackers in recent years before consumers started demanding higher-functioning models.
Garmin navigated both of those demand trends with ease. In fact, sales growth nearly doubled in 2018 to a 7% increase, thanks in part to higher sales of its newest smartwatches. The company tacked on extra sales in its marine and aviation categories, too, which helped profitability improve for a third straight year.
CEO Cliff Pemble and his team are projecting a fourth year of steady sales and profit margin gains in 2019, which would seem like a dream to shareholders of more focused device designers like Fitbit or GoPro. For Garmin, the fact that this is business as usual is a testament to its design, marketing, and pricing strengths. It's also a sign that its wide product portfolio is the right approach, since it provides many paths toward steadily increasing sales and earnings.
A "best in breed" play on a connected world
Leo Sun (Cisco): Cisco, the world's largest maker of networking routers and switches, might seem like a slow-growth tech stock. However, demand for its networking hardware has been rising among enterprise campus customers, and its production costs are declining thanks to lower memory chip prices worldwide.
Cisco's smaller security and applications businesses, which often bundle their software with its hardware devices, also regularly generate double-digit sales growth. Cisco only generates about 3% of its revenues from China, which insulates it from the trade war, and it could profit from Huawei's woes if the Chinese networking hardware maker gets banned in the U.S. and other markets.
Cisco also repatriated $67 billion in overseas cash last year, and it quickly earmarked that cash for buybacks, dividends, and domestic acquisitions. Those moves tighten up its valuations, attract income investors with a solid forward yield of 2.7%, and widen its moat by expanding its security and applications businesses.
Analysts expect Cisco's revenue and non-GAAP earnings to rise 5% and 18%, respectively, this year -- which are solid growth rates for a stock that trades at 15 times forward earnings. By comparison, its rival Juniper Networks, which is struggling with soft demand from its cloud customers, is expected to report negative sales and earnings growth this year.
Cisco's stock is cheap relative to its growth potential, it has a wide moat, and its "best in breed" reputation should help it profit from a more interconnected world. I started buying Cisco in the low $40s, and I'd be willing to add more here in the low $50s.
Don't fall for the fake news; Yandex is a buy
Jamal Carnette, CFA (Yandex): "The Google of Russia" is that and so much more. Not only is this high-growth company beating Google in search in its home country, Yandex is quickly moving into new industries like a taxi partnership with Uber and the country's largest e-commerce site. As more Russians come online -- approximately a quarter are without Internet access -- Yandex will grow revenue from search and these supporting businesses.
The elephant in the room is ensconced in Yandex's nickname: Russia. That's understandable, as Russia's mix of state-owned enterprises and pay-to-play crony capitalism has scared investors. Also, despite its listing on the U.S.-based Nasdaq, many U.S.-based investors are unaware of the company due to home-market bias.
However, both are positives for new investors, as country concerns and unfamiliarity have kept earnings multiples reasonably cheap considering top-line growth. The Russian government has been mostly hands off, and the company's inclusion on the Nasdaq, which contains corporate governance requirements, provides a level of reassurance for these concerns. In many ways, Yandex is where Google was a decade ago, and I expect its strong growth to continue as a result.