Tech stocks have not fared well in 2022. The Technology Sector Select SPDR ETF (XLK 1.60%) is down 22% year to date. Some of this decline is understandable considering how inflated valuations got in 2021. Still, a few of these tech stocks have sold off too much in 2022, and that makes them potentially great buys in September.
Let’s take a closer look at three top tech stocks trading at a discount that might just make great buys this month.
The stock for tech giant Alphabet (GOOG 0.08%) (GOOGL 0.19%) closely mirrors the year-to-date drop in the broader Nasdaq Composite index, with Alphabet down roughly 24% this year. The chief cause of investor wariness in this stock is a weakening advertising environment caused by a slowing economy.
When businesses’ margins tighten due to weakening consumer demand, advertising budgets are often the first expense that gets reduced. This known recession-related trend ends up worrying Alphabet investors because the company derives more than 80% of its revenue from advertising-related sources. The question is whether that worry is overblown. Alphabet posted a respectable 13% year-over-year revenue growth rate in the second quarter. The growth demonstrates Alphabet’s premium position in advertising, as many other advertising-focused companies did not fare as well in Q2.
What is worthy of concern is that Alphabet’s margins took a hit in Q2, and its earnings per share (EPS) dropped from $1.36 in last year’s second quarter to $1.21 this Q2. This drop in profitability also worried investors and resulted in Alphabet stock falling to the point where it only trades at 20 times earnings. That’s a pretty good bargain for a best-in-class company.
When the economy recovers, advertising spending should return to prior levels, which will help Alphabet’s profitability. Alphabet last completed this cycle in 2020 when COVID-19 caused many businesses (especially those in the travel industry) to eliminate advertising.
Alphabet is primed for a recovery; investors should get in now to capture the full force of that move when it eventually occurs.
Cybersecurity has been a hot-button topic for some time, and it will continue to be on both businesses’ and investors’ radars for the foreseeable future. My top pick in this space is CrowdStrike Holdings (CRWD 2.22%), which recently reported fantastic results.
CrowdStrike is a cloud-based cybersecurity platform that protects network endpoints (like phones or laptops) from outside threats. Through its threat graph, CrowdStrike receives trillions of signals per week and uses that data to help it increase customer protection.
The popularity of CrowdStrike offers some proof of its potential. For example, 69 of the Fortune 100 use CrowdStrike, and its customer base grew 51% year over year to 19,686 during its fiscal 2023 second quarter (ending July 31). Revenue grew similarly, rising 58% year over year to $535 million. CrowdStrike also generated a solid free cash flow margin of 25%.
This success and colossal market opportunity come at a price for investors: a high stock valuation. CrowdStrike trades at 21 times sales, meaning investors are paying as much for CrowdStrike’s sales as they are Alphabet’s earnings.
For some, that’s an expensive price to pay for a stock and a considerable investment risk. I believe that CrowdStrike’s offering is best in class, and its rapid growth pace makes up for its high valuation. CrowdStrike is an excellent long-term investment, and buying now allows investors to get in on this stock while it’s down more than 40% from its all-time high.
Autodesk (ADSK 1.64%) may be the most conservative pick among these three stocks. Its software gives engineers and architects the tools they need to do their job. Without Autodesk, its primary clientele would have to go back to drawing blueprints or creating parts by hand.
Because of its necessity, software users are practically locked into paying the yearly subscription fee to access its services. This model worked out well for Autodesk in its fiscal 2023 Q2 (ending July 31), as revenue and billings both grew 17% year over year. Autodesk also gave upbeat full-year guidance, with billings expected to grow between 18% and 21%, which was a reiteration of the first quarter’s guidance.
However, Autodesk raised its EPS outlook from $3.36 to $3.50, showing management has extreme confidence in its ability to execute. The stock isn’t too expensive, trading at 28 times free cash flow, so investors shouldn’t worry as much about valuation as they would with CrowdStrike. Still, Autodesk isn’t an undervalued stock like Alphabet, so investors will need to hold it long-term if they wish to see real gains.
Regardless, Autodesk is a strong business with a healthy recurring revenue stream; it’s an outstanding stock that will anchor a portfolio in good times and bad — as long as you pay a reasonable price for it.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Keithen Drury has positions in Alphabet (C shares), Autodesk, and CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Autodesk, and CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.