Technology stocks are on an absolute tear this year. Over the past 12 months, the S&P 500’s information technology index has returned more than 24%, far outpacing every other major category.
While much attention has been paid to the so-called FANG stocks – Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) – older technology plays have demonstrated better value in recent times. Microsoft (MSFT), German software company SAP, Dutch semiconductor giant ASML Holdings (ASML), are near the top of the list.
- Market Cap: $1.14 trillion
- Year-to-date Return: 47.5%
Earlier this year, Microsoft became the third U.S. company to hit $1 trillion in valuation. The rally hasn’t stopped, as the software giant is now worth more than $1.1 trillion on the back of stellar earnings and an expanding revenue base.
Microsoft has undergone a dramatic shift under CEO Satya Nadella and now has three solid revenue streams that each account for roughly 30% of total sales. The three buckets are: Office, LinkedIn and Dynamics; Azure cloud and enterprise services; and Windows, Xbox and Surface.
Azure revenues jumped 59% during the most recent quarter. The company generated total revenue of $33.1 billion and earnings per share of $1.38, figures that easily exceeded forecasts.
- Market Cap: $165.7 billion
- Year-to-date Return: 36.4%
SAP has also been one of the best-performing legacy technology stocks of 2019. The German software giant has returned more than 36% year-to-date and currently trades around $135.00 per share.
Like Microsoft, SAP owes much of its recent success to cloud computing. For the company’s most recent quarter, cloud bookings increased 39% to €582 million ($645.6 million). Cloud and software sales jumped 12% to €5.63 billion ($6.25 billion). Company-wide revenues increased 13% annually to €6.79 billion ($7.53 billion). Earnings per share were valued at €1.04 ($1.15), an increase of 28%.
- Market Cap: $113.5 billion
- Year-to-date Return: 74.3%
An escalating tech war between the United States and China put a damper on semiconductors in 2018. ASML was one of the casualties, as the stock sold off with the rest of the industry following the trade-war flare-up.
But 2019 has been a year of tremendous recovery for the Dutch technology company. ASML stock is up more than 74% this year thanks to growing demand for its multi-million-dollar chip designers. Some of ASML’s biggest customers include Samsung Electronics, Intel Corp., and Taiwan Semiconductor.
The company’s order intake reached a record high in fiscal Q3, with order backlog surpassing €10 billion ($11.1 billion) for the first time.
FANGs are still some of the most coveted stocks on Wall Street, but regulatory problems (Facebook and Google) and growing competition (Netflix) have put a damper on their gains. As the line between finance and technology continues to blur, some of the FANG constituents will be held to account by new regulatory regimes.