2021 has been an ugly year for many tech stocks, especially high-growth names that benefited from stay-at-home trends during the pandemic. Rising bond yields are sparking a rotation from growth to value stocks, and investors are also pivoting toward companies that will recover as vaccination rates rise.
Faced with these challenges, it might be tempting to sell your tech stocks. However, defensive companies in the sector that generate slower growth but trade at lower valuations should still hold up well during this rotation.
Oracle (ORCL -1.90%), Accenture (ACN 0.22%), and Skyworks Solutions (SWKS 0.28%) fit that description -- and will pay consistent dividends to investors as they ride out the industry's near-term volatility.
Oracle doesn't get much love from growth or income investors. It usually generates low single-digit revenue growth, and its forward dividend yield of 1.8% barely beats the 10-year Treasury's 1.7% yield.
But over the past five years, Oracle stock has risen 75%. After adding reinvested dividends, it has generated a total return of nearly 90%, bringing its performance closer to broad market levels. It accomplished that steady growth with two simple strategies.
First, Oracle transformed its on-site enterprise software into cloud-based services. That transition was grueling, but the expansion of its cloud offerings -- aided by big acquisitions like NetSuite -- eventually offset the slower growth of its on-site software.
Second, Oracle spent most of its free cash flow (FCF) on buybacks instead of dividends. It reduced its share count by nearly 42% over the past decade, which consistently lifted earnings per share and the stock price.
Analysts expect Oracle's revenue and earnings to rise 3% and 16%, respectively, this year. Its stock still looks cheap at 16 times forward earnings estimates, and it still has plenty of room to raise its dividend, which accounted for just 23% of its FCF over the past 12 months.
Accenture is another mature tech company that generates rock-solid returns. Its stock advanced nearly 140% over the past five years, and it generated a total return of more than 160%.
The company pays a forward yield of 1.3%, and it spent just 22% of its FCF on those payments over the past 12 months. Its buyback plans aren't as aggressive as Oracle's, but it still generates consistent earnings growth.
Accenture provides strategy and consulting services, technology services, and outsourced business and security operations. It serves over three-quarters of the global Fortune 500 and operates in more than 200 cities across 50 countries.
Like Oracle, Accenture is expanding its higher-growth businesses -- which help companies with digital, cloud, and security tasks -- to boost its revenue and widen its moat against other IT services providers like IBM.
Its business is well diversified across multiple sectors, and robust demand from its healthcare, financial, tech, media, and communications customers largely offset its other weaknesses throughout the pandemic. Wall Street expects Accenture's revenue and earnings to rise 11% and 7% this year, respectively.
This stock might initially seem pricey at 33 times forward earnings, but its well-diversified business and strong growth relative to its industry peers justify that slight premium.
3. Skyworks Solutions
Skyworks is best known as an Apple supplier, since it generated more than half its revenue from the iPhone maker last year. However, Skyworks also produces wireless and radio frequency chips for a wide range of other customers in other industries.
The company sells an increasing number of chips every time a faster wireless network standard is introduced. It estimates that each 5G smartphone will contain $25 worth of front-end chips, compared to $18 per 4G device, $8 per 3G device, and just $3 per 2G device.
This secular supercycle should enable Skyworks to continue growing for years to come. Its overwhelming dependence on Apple is risky, but it plans to diversify its business away from smartphones as other platforms -- such as connected vehicles, smart-home gadgets, wearables, and other Internet of Things devices -- require more wireless and RF chips.
Skyworks also manufactures its chips internally, which protects it from the chip shortages that are currently affecting "fabless" chipmakers, which outsource their production to third-party foundries. Skyworks experienced disruptions during the pandemic, but it's poised to recover in a post-COVID-19 world as its auto, industrial, and mobile markets all rev up again.
That's why analysts expect Skyworks' revenue and earnings to rise 47% and 67%, respectively, this year. Its stock trades at just 18 times forward earnings, and the company pays a forward yield of 1.1%. Skyworks spent 36% of its FCF on those payments over the past 12 months, giving it plenty of room for future hikes.