Technology stocks ended the year on an up note, and more of the same is expected in 2020. But not every tech company is going to be a good bet in increasingly tumultuous times.
With the U.S. presidential election on the horizon, tensions with Iran rising, and the trade war with China raging, technology investors will need to seek out the stalwarts -- the ones that have double-digit growth prospects without elevated risk.
AMD still has room to grow
Throughout 2019, semiconductor maker AMD has been making strides against chief rival Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), which is reflected in its share price. The stock ended the year up 140%, and in 2020, it's already trading higher. In both 2018 and 2019, it was the better-performing stock. Despite all of that, there's room for more upside in 2020.
Behind the ascent in AMD's stock is CEO Lisa Su, who has transformed the semiconductor company from a scrappy second-place player into a real competitor to Intel. The strides are happening in key growth areas, including data centers, which bodes well for shares.
In the third quarter, sales of graphics chips to data centers were up double-digits as AMD chipped away at Intel's lead. AMD also gained market share in chips for servers and PCs during the third quarter. Wall Street expects more growth out of AMD when it reports fourth-quarter earnings in late January.
The momentum AMD is seeing is expected to be a huge driver for the stock in 2020. So much so that Instinet just raised its price target on AMD to $58 a share from $40. The Wall Street investment firm cited more successes in 2020 as its competitive position against Intel strengthens further thanks to new product launches. At $58 a share, Instinet thinks AMD can increase 20% in 2020, not shabby for a stock that already gained 140% in 2019.
Adobe to ride the cloud to more growth
Not one to let an opportunity pass it by, Adobe has been successfully riding the cloud computing trend, providing consumers and corporate customers access to its popular software solutions -- including Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and InDesign -- in the cloud. That gives Adobe more predictable, recurring revenue, which is welcome, particularly if global trade tensions worsen. In the fiscal third quarter, $2.54 billion of Adobe's $2.83 billion in sales was from subscriptions.
Shares of Adobe finished 2019 up 44% driven by growth in its cloud business and upgrades that make its software accessible on more devices. That growth in subscriptions is expected to be a 2020 story as well.
Adobe is also insulated from the trade war with China because tariffs don't affect its costs to produce goods and services. While it has a big international presence, it's spread out, which cushions the blow from country-specific incidents.
All of those attributes have Wall Street bullish about Adobe's prospects in 2020. Of the Wall Street analysts that cover Adobe, the most bullish think shares can hit $410 in 2020, representing a 23% surge.
Buy on the dip with Twitter
After finishing 2019 unchanged, Twitter is down so far in the new year as investors lose confidence in the microblogging platform operator. That was the case for money manager Josh Brown, who sold all his shares of Twitter despite having over 1 million followers on the platform. The money manager questioned the company's commitment to take the business to the next level, pointing to CEO Jack Dorsey's recent plan to spend six months a year living in Africa.
However, that dip in shares presents a buying opportunity if forecasts for advertising spending in 2020 turn out to be accurate. Social media is expected to be a big beneficiary of a double-digit uptick in ad spending. Bank of America expects digital advertising revenue to jump 15% in 2020, with advertisers spending a total of $341 billion over the course of the year. The Wall Street firm thinks Twitter will be a big winner as its user base continues to grow. With a $39 price target, Bank of America is calling for 25% upside in shares.
Given the sell-off, a rebound may be in store for Twitter, especially if it surprises with its user growth numbers when it reports fourth-quarter earnings in early February.