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What the Best Tech Stocks All Have in Common

Some of the best tech stocks can make you wealthy. But the wrong ones can take your money faster than a slot machine.

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Tech stocks have been some of the best performers in the market so far this year. Technology, as measured by the SPDR Technology Select ETF (XLK), is up more than 15% so far in 2024. The broader tech-heavy Nasdaq is up more than 16%. Mega-cap tech companies have become particularly attractive for investors looking for growth with some measure of safety (such as companies with high levels of cash on hand).

But for every profitable tech stock, there’s a dark, sinister doppelganger that’s ready to eat your money and laugh at your misery. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Still, the world of tech is vast and volatile. You don’t get fast, seemingly unlimited growth without a share of risk.

Further, there isn’t one type of tech company, either. So “tech stocks” could be biotech, financial tech, educational technology, engineering software, and so on. The common thread is that they are technology companies first, and then they specialize from there.

They can also be some of the biggest names in the economy or micro-cap startups. But when you put all those differences aside, the best tech stocks all share some common traits.

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The defining characteristics of the best tech stocks

As a whole, technology stocks have been moving up faster than the general market. The Information Technology sector of the S&P 500 has been the index’s top-performing sector for the past 10-year, five-year and three-year periods.

In the future, there is a good chance tech sector performance will be even more dominant than it has been. So how do you get in on this?

The best tech stocks, or for that matter, the best stocks in any industry, have a few common traits:

  1. The company has a product, service, or business model that is revolutionary.
  2. Their offering has mass-market appeal.
  3. The company has plenty of room to grow and is likely already fast-growing.
  4. The stock has strong RP lines, positive earnings, and reasonable valuation (meaning it’s not overpriced).
  5. And last but not least, it has a stock that’s trending up, indicating that investors’ perceptions of the company are improving.

Don’t overlook the old-fashioned tech stocks

While they might seem “boring,” there are plenty of older tech stocks that also pay dividends, which is almost always a good indicator of a quality stock. (Just be aware that a dividend alone doesn’t make a stock a good purchase. There are dividend stocks out there hanging on by a thread and don’t have very promising-looking futures.)

There’s Microsoft (MSFT), which has grown earnings by an average annual rate of better than 20% for the past five years. That’s astounding growth for an industry behemoth. The stock has returned an average of over 40% per year over the same period. And the company has persistently raised its dividend for the last decade.

Or consider a stock like International Business Machines (IBM). Remember them? They don’t get a ton of press these days, and you won’t find them on the list of hot brands at your favorite big-box computer store. Their stock price has been pretty flat for over a decade.

However, IBM is a world leader in artificial intelligence (AI), meaning there is potential to grow. But what truly makes this “sleepy stock” one of the best tech stocks in the dividend category is this: In 2020, IBM was added to the list of Dividend Aristocrats, meaning they have raised their dividend yearly for 25 consecutive years. So while the stock might not make you rich, it’s a relatively safe investment that will put regular cash in your pocket.

And if you need help finding the best tech stocks, subscribe to one of our investment advisories, where our analysts pick some of the best stocks and options trades.

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What do you look for in tech stocks?

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Cabot Wealth Network