Based on last week's incredibly strong jobs report, it appears we may be in an economy of strong growth yet higher interest rates than the pre-pandemic era.

In that case, stocks that trade at a relatively low multiple of earnings with good growth may do better than the hypergrowth yet profitless tech stocks that dominated over the past five to 10 years, because of the effect of interest rates on growth stock valuations.

Fortunately, despite strong year-to-date gains, there are still ample opportunities to find low-priced, high-quality stocks throughout the market. Here are three names -- two in the tech space, and one natural gas producer -- that should reward shareholders handsomely in the year ahead.


While big tech stocks occasionally gets tagged as being "expensive," Alphabet (GOOGL -0.02%) (GOOG 0.10%) still looks downright cheap.

Trading around 20 times earnings, Alphabet has a number of attributes that actually make it a bit cheaper. First, the company has $114 billion in cash on its balance sheet -- good for nearly 10% of its market cap. Second, Alphabet continues to lose money in both its high-growth cloud computing unit, as well as its "Other Bets" moonshot segment. Even though those segments combined for $9 billion in operating losses last year – decreasing headline earnings by more than 10% -- each segment likely has positive value. Finally, Alphabet also recently announced it will be laying off about 12,000 employees, or about 6.3% of its workforce. Those cost savings haven't been realized just yet, but they will be.

After the pandemic boom in revenue and earnings in 2021, growth slowed mightily last year. Yet Alphabet was still able to grow its top line by 10%, or 14% in constant currency during 2022. While profit declined, Alphabet still generated a healthy margin and returned almost $60 billion to shareholders in the form of share repurchases, lowering Alphabet's share count by 3%.

While some investors are concerned about the rapid rise of OpenAI's ChatGPT and its potential threat to Google Search, Alphabet has been investing heavily in artificial intelligence for the better part of a decade. In last week's earnings release, CEO Sundar Pichai hinted that a number of AI-related services would be coming out soon, including a ChatGPT competitor called LaMDA. Alphabet will actually be changing some of its financial reporting as well, to highlight future AI-driven growth within Alphabet.

Given its cash-generating core business, the prospect that its cloud segment could turn profitable this year, a better cost structure, and leadership in AI, investors shouldn't hesitate to buy Alphabet shares at these levels that are still well off their highs.

Super Micro Computer

If you think 20 times earnings is a small price to pay for an artificial intelligence leader, Super Micro Computer (SMCI -0.60%) is also leveraged to big AI trends, and its stock only trades at 7.25 times earnings! Even more remarkable, that cheap valuation remains even after the stock more than doubled over the past year. So Super Micro didn't benefit from a multiple rerating -- its success is all related to earnings growth.

SMCI 1 Year Total Returns (Daily) Chart

SMCI 1 Year Total Returns (Daily) data by YCharts

How did Super Micro do it? Well, the company has transformed itself from a component and basic server assembler into a "total IT systems" innovator over the past few years, complete with full rack-scale server and cooling systems, tied together with data center software and security services.

A key differentiator behind SMCI's approach is its highly modular, building-block architecture. This allows operators to co-design highly customized servers at scale. With increasingly diverse applications across AI, 5G, the Internet of Things, and the cloud, that quick customization capability is valuable for customers.

Perhaps most importantly, SMCI has also relentlessly pursued a "green computing" ethos for years, claiming its server designs are the most energy-efficient in the market. Its latest servers boast a power usage effectiveness (PUE) metric of just 1.05, meaning data centers only require 5% more total power relative to actual the computing power of the data center in order to run -- an industry low.

As AI requires the latest and greatest leading-edge chips, which have increasing power needs with each generation, the onus on power efficiency is only going to grow. As AI reached an inflection point in 2022 and electricity prices spiked in the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine war, it's no wonder customers gravitated toward Super Micro's eco-friendly solutions -- and should continue doing so in the future.

Since investors anticipate a slowdown and perhaps a decline in the server industry over the next couple quarters, that's why Super Micro trades at such a low valuation. Yet while management forecast a quarter-over-quarter decline for the current quarter, CEO Charles Liang still expects SMCI's fiscal year ending in June to grow 30% over fiscal 2022.

Perhaps more importantly, Liang believes Super Micro should be able to grow at least 20% in 2024. That's in contrast to Wall Street analysts, who currently forecast only slight revenue growth in 2024 and a decline in earnings per share.

Super Micro has surprised the analyst community to the upside over the past year, but it seems there's a good chance it could continue doing so, given its still-low expectations.

CNX Resources

OK, one might not think a natural gas producer and midstream company would qualify as being related to artificial intelligence, but remember, AI data centers have huge electricity needs, and the largest source of electricity generation in the U.S. is natural gas, which powered 38.4% of all U.S. electricity generation in 2021.

One screamingly cheap and shareholder-friendly natural gas stock is CNX Resources (CNX -0.46%), a U.S. natural gas driller that operates in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio, and owns 2,600 miles of gas gathering pipelines and other processing facilities.

What's especially attractive about CNX is management's capital allocation policies. Unlike a lot of other energy companies that are highly exposed to commodity prices and pay out dividends, CNX tends to hedge a large amount of its volumes -- about 80% one year out -- then works to lower cash costs by drilling more efficiently over time.

That programmatic hedging strategy makes CNX a much more predictable business. While natural gas prices have crashed from the mid-$9 range in August to just $2.38 per thousand cubic feet today, CNX has been able to put on hedges above today's prices going out to 2027. Meanwhile, CNX expects to lower its cash costs per thousand cubic feet equivalent from $1.20 in 2022 to $1.10 in 2023.

And instead of dividends, CNX pays out most of its cash flow in share repurchases. Thanks to its low valuation, management has been able to retire a stunning 24% of its shares outstanding since the third quarter of 2020. With a market cap of just $2.77 billion and a current projection for $375 million in free cash flow in 2023, management could retire another 13% of its shares this year at these prices.

CNX Shares Outstanding Chart

CNX Shares Outstanding data by YCharts

That's a pretty great free cash flow yield in a low-price environment for natural gas. And should natural gas prices spike higher as they did last year, CNX's cash flow will rise and become even more of a bargain.