The stock market can be fickle, and that's doubly true when it comes to tech stocks. While investors often send shares of hot tech stocks soaring when everything is going right, bad news can cause the same stock to get beaten down. It's not uncommon to see shares of a once high-flying tech stock fall by 30%, 40%, or even 50% in a short period.
Sometimes, this panic selling gets out of hand. All bad news isn't created equal, and the market has a tendency to overreact. There are three tech stocks in particular -- LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD), Universal Display (NASDAQ:OLED), and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) -- that our Foolish contributors believe have been unfairly penalized. Here are their takes on these three out-of-favor companies.
Andres Cardenal (LinkedIn). LinkedIn stock is not for the faint of heart. The professional network specializing in job opportunities and business contacts is investing tons of money in growth, and recent acquisitions such as online learning platform Lynda.com are hurting profit margins. This all means that LinkedIn lost money on a net-income basis last quarter, and the stock is down by nearly 30% from its highs of the past year.
On the other hand, LinkedIn is delivering massive revenue growth. Total sales grew 33% year over year to $312 million in the second quarter of 2015. As the company grows and the business matures, reinvestment needs should slow down, so LinkedIn will probably benefit from expanding profitability in the middle term.
The company has 380 million members as of the last quarter, an 21% year-over-year increase. Page views grew 35%, so engagement trends look quite healthy, and the platform has 37,425 companies using its services, a 33% annual increase from the second quarter of 2014. These numbers show that LinkedIn continues consolidating its undisputed leadership position in the business.
The Internet and related technologies are dramatically transforming the human-resources industry, and no company is better positioned than LinkedIn to benefit from this trend. For this reason, management is doing the smart thing by aggressively investing in multiple areas to secure growth opportunities over the years to come.
Steve Symington (Universal Display): Since setting a fresh multi-year high of nearly $56 per share in June, Universal Display stock has plunged 36%. For that, investors in the OLED technologist can largely thank the company's weaker-than-expected second quarter, during which it said sales fell 9.4% year over year, and translated to a surprise GAAP net loss of $11.8 million.
It might be tempting to stay away, but keep in mind that net loss included a one-time $33 million writedown of old OLED host material inventory and associated work-in-process. For perspective, while Universal Display customers are obligated to purchase its phosphorescent OLED emitter materials under their respective patent and material supply agreements with the company, they are not required to buy the company's host materials.
But why take the big writedown now? During the subsequent conference call, Universal Display CEO Steve Abramson said one unnamed customer -- which is almost certainly Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) Display, given its purchase last year of an OLED host producer then named Cheil Undustries -- saw stronger-than-expected demand for "numerous product introductions that utilized [UDC's] new red and green emitters." However, the success of these new products came at the expense of demand for older OLED devices from this customer that also used UDC's host materials. And though this transition was largely expected, it happened significantly faster than Universal Display anticipated and, in turn, resulted in their decision to initiate the one-time writedown and absorb the temporary GAAP net loss.
Now that it effectively bit the bullet, however, Universal Display should be able to look forward to ever-growing demand for its newest emitter materials. That demand should come from customers such as LG Display (NYSE:LPL), which is in the process of ramping OLED TV production as we speak and signed a long-term patent and material supply agreement with UDC earlier this year. What's more, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) finally introduced OLED displays in its product lineup with the Apple Watch, and is rumored to have big plans to expand its use of OLED technology in the next few years. Over the long term as this growth story plays out, I think the recent pullback in Universal Display shares should prove little more than a blip in the radar.
Tim Green (Qualcomm): Shares of Qualcomm are down about 25% so far this year, driven by slumping revenue and profits. During Qualcomm's third quarter, revenue declined by 14% year over year while EPS fell by 44%. Sales of Qualcomm's systems on a chip, particularly those meant for high-end smartphones, have been weak, and the once lucrative business of selling components to smartphone manufacturers has become far less profitable.
During the third quarter, revenue in Qualcomm's QCT segment, which includes sales of products and services, declined by 22% year over year. Worse, pre-tax profits associated with the segment contracted by 74%, a massive decline in profitability. Given these results, it makes sense that Qualcomm's stock has fallen so hard. However, the vast majority of Qualcomm's profits come from the company's technology licensing segment, and that business is both growing and wildly profitable.
Qualcomm owns various patents related to 3G and 4G technology, and it licenses those patents to device manufacturers. Licensing generated $1.93 billion of revenue for Qualcomm during the third quarter, up 7% year over year, about half as much as selling products and services. But licensing generated $1.65 billion of pre-tax profits, compared with just $289 million for the QCT segment.
The most important part of Qualcomm's business is performing well, and technology licensing essentially creates a floor on the company's profitability. While investors are right to be disappointed in the rest of Qualcomm's business, the market seems to be overreacting to Qualcomm's results.
Andrés Cardenal owns shares of Apple and LinkedIn. Steve Symington owns shares of Apple and Universal Display. Timothy Green has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple, LinkedIn, Qualcomm, and Universal Display. 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.