A strengthening U.S. dollar could erode American companies’ profits by driving up the costs of doing business overseas and diminishing the value of foreign sales. But analysts say the American tech industry, which books the highest percentage of foreign sales in the S&P 500, is likely to withstand the currency headwinds.
Buyoed by a recovering U.S. economy, the dollar has gained nearly 8 percent on the euro and the yen since the end of June, peaking at a six-year high last month.
To be sure, the stronger dollar "will be a general negative for pretty much the entire U.S. tech sector," said James Cordwell, an analyst at Atlantic Equities, a U.S. equity research house based in London. However, he noted, "for the majority, it doesn't significantly impact their position. It's just headwind to the growth they report."
A few exceptions could be Internet companies like Priceline, which derives only about 20 percent of its revenue in the U.S., and semiconductor company Qualcomm, Cordwell noted. Qualcomm generates about two-thirds of its earnings from a licensing business where it collects a royalty for every smartphone sold, in foreign currencies. But the company could change its practices before reporting third quarter earnings in November.
Most American semiconductor companies denominate foreign sales in U.S. dollars, minimizing the impact of currency fluctuations, said Stacy Rasgon, senior analyst on U.S. semiconductors for Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “To the extent they have costs denominated in other currencies, it can be a margin driver, but frankly most of them have other things that move the margins far more,” Rasgon said.
Since SanDisk Corp. of California manufactures and sells memory cards in Japan, the dollar’s rise relative to the yen would lower the dollar value of Japanese sales. But a strong dollar in the third quarter likely wouldn’t impact SanDisk until the first half of next year, said Craig Ellis, senior analyst for B. Riley & Co.
“People are aware of the issue, but it’s not the most significant investment issue,” Ellis said.