Of course, with different time horizons and risk tolerances, the "best" stock to own today will vary. With that said, we asked three Motley Fool Contributors to select a tech stock that would make the top of their list. For a myriad of reasons, Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) each made the list.
Dan Caplinger (Seagate Technology): Among tech stocks, most investors focus on high-growth candidates with the potential for game-changing impact on the entire industry. Yet smart investors also focus on the same value-based fundamentals that work in other sectors, and for those seeking good value and solid dividend income, Seagate Technology is a good pick right now.
Many see Seagate as a has-been in tech, with its historical emphasis on hard-disk drives falling prey to concerns about plunging PC demand. Yet demand for low-cost storage options has increased with the rise of data collection and analysis, putting Seagate in an enviable position to capitalize. Moreover, with its efforts to build up its presence in the solid-state drive market, Seagate is trying to keep up with the pace of technological innovation to preserve its leadership role in the storage-technology industry.
Seagate has an extremely attractive dividend for a tech stock, with a yield of 4% despite a payout ratio of just 30%. With a forward earnings multiple of just above 10, Seagate is already priced for projected tough times in the industry. With most investors looking at worst-case scenarios, any positive surprise will become a potential catalyst for an explosive move higher in Seagate stock.
Bob Ciura (Apple): If I had to own just one stock, it would be Apple, hands down. The company is minting money thanks to the ongoing success of the iPhone 6. Due largely to the new iPhone, Apple's revenue grew 29% last quarter as Apple sold more than 74 million iPhones. This set a record for iPhone sales in a quarter. Meanwhile, Apple's earnings per share soared 47%, year-over-year.
Not surprisingly, Apple's growth has propelled the stock. Shares of the technology giant are up 64% in the past year, handily beating the 12% return of the S&P 500. But I believe there's plenty of room left for Apple's rally to continue, because Apple's emerging market growth is still in the early stages. Revenue grew 70% in China last quarter, but China still represents only 21% of Apple's total revenue. Apple's partnership with China Mobile, the largest wireless carrier in the world, is just getting started, and should propel significant growth going forward. Analysts expect Apple to earn $8.63 per share this year on average, which would represent 33% growth year-over-year.
I believe the stock can continue to perform well, because it's still not expensive. Apple trades for just 13 times forward earnings estimates. If Apple can beat expectations in future quarters, which it has a track record of doing, there's no reason why the stock valuation cannot expand. And Apple pays a nice 1.5% dividend, which is icing on the cake.
Tim Brugger (Facebook): Long-term growth potential was uppermost in my mind when considering the best tech stock out there today, which made the decision a relatively easy one: Facebook.
Facebook's current record-high stock price might make some skittish. But what makes Facebook such a sound long-term buy is that its run-up is due to its existing revenue sources, and rightfully so -- but it's just scratching the surface. After a long period of testing, Facebook has finally taken the wraps off its video advertising solution, and at a whopping $1 million a day to simply be a part of the beta phase, clearly a decent portion of its 2 million marketing partners are eager to get onboard.
Waiting in the proverbial wings are significant revenue opportunities, including WhatsApp with its 700 million monthly average users (MAUs), the Oculus Rift virtual reality device -- which is rumored to be nearing full-scale release -- Facebook's budding app development efforts, and the 500 million Messenger MAUs. Those are a lot of arrows in Facebook's quiver, all of which could prove ancillary to its most appreciable asset: Instagram.
Some grumbled when Facebook spent $1 billion on photo-sharing site Instagram about three years ago, and based on its relatively minuscule revenues to date, that may seem warranted. However, that's going to change, in a big way. With its 300 million MAUs, one estimate suggests Instagram is a $35 billion property. When Facebook finally begins utilizing it as full-fledged ad alternative, though, that valuation may prove conservative. With a slew of future growth opportunities, Facebook tops the list of stocks to own today.