Lots of great stocks can be bought for less than $20 per share, even when every major market index is soaring at all-time highs. Some low-priced stocks deserve their modest price tags but great risk also brings great potential returns. In your search for strong tech stocks that will survive the COVID-19 health crisis and thrive in the long run, you need to avoid value-trap landmines.
On that note, here are three great tech companies whose shares are trading below $20 today. Let me explain why they look like great buys at these low prices.
1. Skillz: $14 per share
Online e-sports gaming platform Skillz (SKLZ -1.44%) is a controversial ticker. The company offers a software platform upon which other people and businesses can build mobile games that allow users to compete for cash prizes. It's like Roblox for adults, with the added lure of real-money winnings. Critics argue that Skillz looks exactly like the defunct games-for-cash apps that have popped up and died out in the past. Skillz investors point to the platform's incredible popularity, nearly doubling sales in 2020, and 95% gross margin. Love it or hate it, Skillz inspires passion. The stock is highly volatile and set up for further massive swings. Twenty-three percent of the publicly available shares were sold short at the latest count.
That might sound like a risky bet to some investors but I expect Skillz to go far. CEO and co-founder Andrew Paradise owns 20% of the company, which aligns his interests very closely to doing what's best for shareholders. The open nature of the Skillz platform serves as a canvas for a plethora of creative and business-minded people, just like Roblox. And it's hard to find a gaming community with a deeper engagement than Skillz users. The average Skillz gamer spends more than an hour per day on the platform. Not even video-sharing phenom TikTok or social media giant Facebook can match that claim.
Skillz is a direct bet on the growing markets of e-sports, mobile gaming, and online communities. The stock may not be cheap at 24 times trailing sales and negative profits but the bottom line will skyrocket whenever management decides to take their foot off the advertising-powered revenue accelerator. Skillz spent 116% of its incoming sales on marketing last year and that's not a typo. Together with the rapidly growing user base, Skillz should enjoy a bumpy but overall upward-bound ride for years to come.
2. Ericsson: $14 per share
Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (ERIC 0.68%) is more of a household name, looking back at decades of global telecom equipment and services operations. The stock is trading near multi-year highs with hardly any short-seller interest, and Wall Street analysts are fawning over the Swedish giant.
I have extolled Ericsson's virtues many times before, so let me just summarize the story here. The company struggled in the early 2010s, beset by competitors rising out of China and South Korea in an increasingly mature stage of 4G networking. Ericsson has shifted back to seeking revenue growth under new management, staring down a massive global 5G opportunity. Many countries have slapped sanctions on the rising Chinese alternatives due to security concerns and other political reasons. Ericsson is poised to take full advantage of the situation.
"5G is now a reality, and we are a global leader with 127 contracts as well as 79 live networks," said CEO Borje Ekholm in January's fourth-quarter earnings call. "We are having a disproportionate win ratio. ... Our market share gains that may not be visible in numbers yet, but it is in Africa, it's in Asia, it's in Latin America as well."
That makes Ericsson a great bet on the global 5G rollout, which should remain a growth driver for the foreseeable future. On top of that, the stock trades at just 16 times forward earnings. There's no need to wait for a great buy-in window because it's already here.
3. Flex: $18 per share
And if you think Ericsson looks affordable, you haven't seen electronics manufacturing specialist Flex (FLEX 0.71%) yet. You can pick up this high-quality stock for just 12 times forward earnings.
Flex had a difficult year in 2020 as the coronavirus health crisis killed end-user demand for many types of electronic devices. The company is now enjoying a rebound in automotive orders, industrial equipment installations, and the continued rollout of 5G networks. Flex plays an important part in all of these markets.
The company is also doing its best to unlock shareholder value through its more exciting business operations. For example, management is considering a sale or spin-off of Nextracker, a provider of large-scale solar tracker systems. Stocks in the solar-power equipment category such as power inverter expert SolarEdge Technologies and solar power monitoring specialist Enphase Energy trade at nosebleed-inducing multiples. Taking advantage of that market-maker attitude could give Flex a game-changing cash infusion in one fell swoop.