After a year in which global macro machinations drove stock correlations to record highs, the Canaccord Genuity technology team is hopeful that 2012 will be a year in which favorable returns are the reward for superior fundamental analysis.
Following are their top technology stock picks that include Apple, Qualcomm, Google, Analog Devices, Sierra Wireless and Nuance Communications.
Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)
The brokerage believes Apple will continue to dominate profit share of both the fast-growing smartphone and tablet markets, driven in part by tiered pricing strategies for the iPhone and iPad.
As such, we believe investors should own smartphone leader Apple and its growing iOS market share, and leading smartphone supplier Qualcomm rather than OEMs facing intensifying competition through using either Android or Windows OS, Canaccord Genuity analysts wrote in a note to clients.
Qualcomm, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM)
With more than 3 billion 2G GSM subscribers on a migration path to 3G CDMA-based technologies over the next decade and expectations for MSM market share gains with multiple OEMs, the brokerage said Qualcomm should post stronger long-term earnings growth than its coverage universe.
With Qualcomm's integrated Snapdragon solutions gaining market share with leading smartphone ecosystems and OEMs, Qualcomm is well-positioned to grow faster than the handset market for the next several years.
Google, Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG)
The brokerage believes Google still offers stable exposure to the most durable trends in tech: Internet usage, online advertising and commerce, smart phone penetration, mobile commerce, and social networking.
The brokerage expects strong growth and profitability, and believes this will warrant a stable or higher multiple, especially if mobile monetization improves.
The analysts believe desktop search deceleration in the U.S. should be offset by international growth and new advertising paradigms around mobile and social habits that will extend the addressable market.
Furthermore, the brokerage expects Google's Display business to be strong in 2012, helped by YouTube's Channels redesign. This, combined with the potential upside from Google+, should help Display against the threat of Facebook's IPO funding.
Analog Devices, Inc. (NYSE:ADI)
The brokerage continues to recommend Analog Devices given the potential for dividend increases, essentially no PC exposure, and a likely uptick in gross margin as industry begins to recover in the first quarter.
Sierra Wireless, Inc. (NASDAQ:SWIR)
Following a relatively disappointing 2011 due to a slower than anticipated ramp of LTE mobile computing sales, the brokerage believes Sierra Wireless is well positioned for strong 2012 EPS growth trends. We believe Sierra Wireless remains well-positioned with AT&T, Inc. (NYSE:T).
The brokerage also expects strong mobile computing trends by mid-2012 due to an LTE upgrade cycle. Further, analysts believe Sierra Wireless continues to execute on its machine-to-machine (M2M) product roadmap and expanding M2M pipeline. The brokerage further believes this higher-margin business is the key long-term growth drive for Sierra Wireless and anticipates solid growth trends during 2012.
Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:NUAN)
The brokerage said that Nuance Communications, being a leader in a modest-sized segment is interesting, but hardly the stuff of sustained and significant stock price outperformance. Investors always looked at Nuance as a slightly off the beaten path company that did a bunch of acquisitions; it was a nice trading vehicle. All of that changed with the introduction of Apple's Siri on the iPhone 4S.
The ability to take speech technology from basic recognition to natural language processing to a service that can achieve an outcome when you do a search is far more valuable than most people expected.
In the case of Apple, it is Siri, a voice-activated personal assistant service that Nuance helps to power.
By this, the brokerage means that the catch-up spending that is about to flow through Nuance's income statement is not confined to smart phone handsets, but includes call centers, other consumer electronic devices (tablets, TVs, etc.) and cars.
Companies know this, and suddenly Nuance is fielding dozens of inbound inquiries on how to catch up. In our opinion, this bodes well for the likelihood of accelerating growth, multiple expansion, and stock price appreciation, the analysts said.