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3 International Tech Stocks to Buy Right Now

By Anders Bylund – Oct 16, 2020 at 7:31AM

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Some of the best tech stocks in the market are based outside American borders.

The American stock market is unusually unstable right now, particularly in the tech sector. Between the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the presidential election, and tech stocks bouncing back from a disastrous spring to skyrocketing returns over the last six months, investors are facing uncertainty in every corner.

Fortunately, the tech sector stretches far beyond Silicon Valley. Here are three foreign tech stocks that look like tremendous buys today. Let's take a closer look at Dutch semiconductor maker NXP Semiconductors (NXPI 6.77%), Canadian e-commerce technologist Shopify (SHOP 10.04%), and Swedish music-streaming giant Spotify (SPOT 5.75%).

A young man points at a map of the world.

Image source: Getty Images.

The Dutch leader in automotive computing

NXP may feel like an American company after the buyout of Texas-based Freescale Semiconductor in 2015, but the company's headquarters are still in the Netherlands, and NXP's business is incredibly global. In 2019, only 12% of NXP's revenues were based on shipments to the Americas.

Greater China accounted for 56% of the company's total sales. Many of NXP's chips under the Chinese banner still ended up on American store shelves and in American cars, of course, but the company's global reach can't be denied.

This stock has gained a modest 22% over the last 52 weeks. It trades at a very reasonable 19 times forward earnings, due to investor concerns about the automotive industry. Car sales plunged around the world when the novel coronavirus emerged, and automotive computing represented a whopping 47% of NXP's total sales last year.

Carmakers are getting back to work again, which is a good sign for NXP and its investors. The company also looks forward to selling processors into the infrastructure side of the 5G wireless market, as well as controller chips for automated industrial processes. In short, NXP is staring down several exciting growth markets, and its stock doesn't look expensive. There's no such thing as a perfect crystal ball or a risk-free stock, but NXP is a pretty safe bet, with lots of growth potential in the years ahead.

A smiling young woman looks at her smartphone, holding a credit card in her other hand.

Image source: Getty Images.

E-commerce solutions for small businesses

Ottawa-based digital-storefront specialist Shopify is on a roll. The stock has tripled in 52 weeks amid booming interest in online shopping. Shopify's second-quarter sales doubled year over year, and the top line is expected to grow by 69% in the third quarter -- with the caveat that analysts tend to underestimate Shopify's revenues by a wide margin.

E-commerce is clearly the future of retail, and Shopify's solutions make it easy to set up effective online stores for small and medium businesses. This stock isn't cheap, trading at a lofty 470 times forward earnings or 61 times trailing sales, but you get what you pay for.

High-growth companies tend to invest every available penny of surplus funds into growth-boosting projects, with marketing and R&D (research and development) budgets often consuming the lion's share of their gross profits. Sustainable bottom-line profits and cash flows will come later when the company has collected most of the low-hanging fruit and grabbed a large slice of its chosen target market.

That's where Shopify stands today. Research and development plus sales and marketing accounted for 74% of Shopify's gross profits in July's second-quarter report. The company is building an impressive stable of partners, and the Shopify Balance financial-technology platform looks like a threat to traditional banking services.

Yes, the stock is expensive. With growth rates like these, and with e-commerce sales accounting for just 16% of the American retail sector, even during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Shopify's growth prospects are absolutely immense. This is an industry giant in the making.

A young woman in a black dress strikes a pose, cupping one hand around her headphones.

Image source: Getty Images.

Music today, podcasts tomorrow, and that's just the start

From Shopify to Spotify, we're moving across the Atlantic and into the digital-entertainment industry. That's another obvious winner in the coronavirus era, and you can see it in Spotify's stock chart. Share prices have gained 118% over the last year, even after a 14% retreat from July's all-time highs.

The company is making huge investments in podcasting, locking down popular names such as Joe Rogan and the Chernin Entertainment studio to exclusive content deals. While these partnerships are in development, Spotify can lean on the international expansion of its music-streaming services.

Like Shopify, Spotify is a hungry growth stock with no plans to deliver dependable profits anytime soon. It's all about top-line growth and broadening the company's product portfolio.

The profits will come later, and many investors underestimate the value this company is creating for the long term. That's why Spotify is a solid buy today, despite a lofty price tag.

Anders Bylund owns shares of NXP Semiconductors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Shopify and Spotify Technology. The Motley Fool recommends NXP Semiconductors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Nxp Semiconductors Stock Quote
Nxp Semiconductors
NXPI
$175.84 (6.77%) $11.15
Shopify Stock Quote
Shopify
SHOP
$40.88 (10.04%) $3.73
Spotify Technology Stock Quote
Spotify Technology
SPOT
$79.42 (5.75%) $4.32

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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