A tech revolution is underway that has me very excited for the sector in 2012. Growth is coming from the increasing popularity of smartphones and tablet devices, and demand for smaller, lighter, more efficient and longer-lasting battery-life components. It’s a brand new world ripe for the plucking for tech companies that are innovative enough to bring new and improved products to market. Here are some that are poised to benefit from their forward thinking:
3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) makes products that are used by businesses to conceptualize and design products. Customers include Bose, Ford (NYSE:F), Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS), Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) and Porsche. All companies are fighting for consumer dollars, and to get that edge they need to innovate. With DDD’s help, they can create the new products and improvements they need.
In the most recent quarter, profits were up 48%, and revenues rose 39%. Earnings did miss expectations slightly, but it looks like the culprit was higher R&D expenditures. Over the past several months 3D Systems has been aggressively expanding its product portfolio. It has been reinvesting in itself to make its products more innovative and diverse, and I expect today’s sacrifice will translate into massive profits in the long run.
2012 Estimated Sales Growth: 19.7%
2012 Estimated Earnings Growth: 11%
Allot Communications (NASDAQ:ALLT) is profiting from the secret revolution involving upgrades. Every time consumers upgrade their smartphones and buy tablets they require more bandwidth. That means their service providers need more capacity. That’s where ALLT comes in. The company helps regulate, secure and maximize efficiency of networks. With smartphone sales on the rise, companies are going to need ALLT for many years to come.
2012 Estimated Sales Growth: 15.3%
2012 Estimated Earnings Growth: 25%
Avago Technologies (NASDAQ:AVGO) has an impressive portfolio of over 6,500 products that serve wireless communication, wired infrastructure, industrial and automotive electronics and consumer and computing peripherals. The company reported mixed fourth-quarter earnings on Dec. 1. Sales rose 9%, but due to a seasonal slowdown in the industrial market, profits came in 6% less than last year. For the next quarter, management expects revenues to decline sequentially due to softness in industrial and consumer end-markets. However, Avago is making great strides on its wireless communications business, making it much better positioned to weather the storm than most chipmakers.
2012 Estimated Sales Growth: 7.6%
2012 Estimated Earnings Growth: 3.9%
Ceradyne (NASDAQ:CRDN) makes advanced technical ceramics products that combine hardness with light weight and the ability to withstand high temperatures, resist corrosion and insulate against electricity. The company has set an impressive goal of hitting $1 billion in sales by 2016 and is on track to meet that goal. In the most recent quarter, sales were up 61% year over year. I fully expect that Ceradyne will aggressively increase sales and earnings and see its share price rise with each new milestone.
2012 Estimated Sales Growth: 1.9%
2012 Estimated Earnings Growth: -10.9%
IPG Photonics (NASDAQ:IPGP) derives 89% of its sales from lasers made for manufacturing applications. Unfortunately, the ISM Manufacturing index slumped last month, spooking investors. However, many failed to notice that other metrics tied to manufacturing are up, including industrial production, capacity utilization and durable goods orders.
Thankfully, IPG Photonics has been seeing increasingly strong demand from auto manufacturers, particularly in Germany, Japan, China and the U.S. Of course, the company may not be dependent on this sector for too long. Last quarter, it announced record sales growth in its other businesses: Sales for the telecommunications market boomed 41% year-over-year, and medical sales surged 74% year-over-year. You should take advantage of current prices because we’re not likely to see them again any time soon.
2012 Estimated Sales Growth: 16%
2012 Estimated Earnings Growth: 15.6%
Polypore International (NYSE:PPO) makes polymer-based membranes used as separators that go into lithium-ion batteries. These are the batteries you find in electronic devices, such as Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, and even in hybrid and electric vehicles. So, as long as we keep driving cars and using laptops and cell phones, the company isn’t going anywhere.
But PPO is not banking on this. It’s moving forward by boosting its production of lithium battery separators for electric vehicles. In late July, the company announced that it was investing $105 million in an additional capacity expansion at its lithium battery separator production facility in Charlotte, N.C. The analyst community remains very focused on Polypore’s long-term forecasted earnings, especially as the production of the Chevy Volt and other lithium-battery powered vehicles heat up.
2012 Estimated Sales Growth: 17.1%
2012 Estimated Earnings Growth: 26.1%
Zagg (NASDAQ:ZAGG) caters to the inner geek in many of us, making accessories that protect our beloved gadgets, including smartphones, laptops, GPS devices and watch faces. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that an explosion in consumer electronics is going on, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t spring the couple extra bucks for a clear plastic cover for their new gadget. As long as people are still using cell phones, tablets, GPS and the like, ZAGG will have a great business and strong future.
2012 Estimated Sales Growth: 40.4%
2012 Estimated Earnings Growth: 58.3%