Tech stocks have performed fairly well in 2014: The Nasdaq Composite has slightly outperformed the broader S&P 500, as a number of tech stocks have been among the best performing in the market this year.
Those looking to add exposure to technology for 2015 have many options to choose from. Below are four that could reward their shareholders in 2014 -- from established firms to high-flyers, they represent a rough spectrum of different investing styles.
Established giant: Google
Although it was one of 2013's best-performing large cap tech stocks, search giant Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has struggled this year, and for good reason. From virtually every angle, things appear to be going against the search giant:
- Nikesh Arora, Google's longtime chief business officer, left for Softbank
- Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is moving into search
- Samsung, one of Google's largest handset partners, has seen its share of the smartphone market plunge
- Xiaomi, which uses a modified, Google-free version of Android, has taken China by storm and has set its sights on other emerging markets
- There's talk Apple may dump Google as the default iOS search engine
- Some European Union lawmakers want to break up the company
- Many of its much-heralded innovations, including Google Glass and self-driving cars, have resulted in no tangible products
Investors have reacted by selling shares. Year-to-date, Google is down nearly 12%, underperforming the broader market and most of its major rivals. But fears may be overblown.
Last quarter alone, Google generated $3.58 billion in free cash flow, up 22% from the prior year. It has more than $62 billion in the bank. It continues to dominate the search market, conducting about two-thirds of U.S. desktop search queries. Android has largely won the platform war (with more than 80% market share), and though forked versions of Android are growing in popularity, Google's version still powers the vast majority of smartphones sold worldwide. Glassdoor just named it the best company to work for.
In short, it's still a great company. If you've been looking to invest in Google, now may be an opportunity.
Beaten down stock: Twitter
Last year's highest-flying IPO has been a disaster for shareholders: Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) has lost almost half its value in 2014. The quality of its management team has come under fire, as Twitter has struggled to define its long-term outlook. Most recently, photo sharing giant Instagram surpassed Twitter in mobile users, further cementing the notion that Twitter could be, at best, a niche social network.
But investors willing to tolerate risk could be rewarded in 2015. Despite being surpassed by Instragram, Twitter is still growing, albeit more slowly than many hoped. Last quarter, Twitter's revenue rose more than 100% on an annual basis, as its monthly active users jumped 23% year-over-year. Its business model still seems relevant and unique in the social networking space, and though it may not be for everyone, Twitter's status as a real-time information network could be valuable, perhaps even to another, larger tech company.
Positive momentum: Facebook
Like Twitter, Facebook struggled shortly after its IPO, hitting an all-time low at less than $20 per share just months after its public debut. But in the quarters that followed Facebook turned things around, rallying nearly 300%, including more than 36% this year alone.
Those investors looking to chase momentum may consider buying Facebook shares ahead of 2015. The company appears to be firing on all cylinders, with its ownership of Instragram and Whatsapp giving it three of the biggest networks on the web. It's taking big bets, and with its recent decision to remove Bing web results from its search engine, appears to be gearing up for an aggressive push into search.
Last quarter, Facebook's revenue rose more than 37% of an annual basis, while its net income nearly doubled as its operating margin rose 7%.
Dividend payer: Seagate
Tech stocks are rarely known for their attractive dividends, but hard drive-maker Seagate (NASDAQ:STX) offers investors a solid 3.4%. The stock is relatively cheap, with a price-to-earnings ratio in the low teens. Last quarter, Seagate generated more than $400 million in free cash flow, and paid out the bulk of that to shareholders in the form of dividends and share buybacks.
Seagate's core market -- traditional hard drives -- faces an uncertain future, as better-performing solid state drives increasingly compete on storage and price. But Seagate has made some headway into that market, launching a few products of its own, and its hard drives still offer unparalleled storage capacity for the dollar.
Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Facebook, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Twitter. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Facebook, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Twitter. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.