Technology is the alchemy of the stock market. It is where companies turn worthless silicon into incredible new and expensive gizmos and devices. And it is where other companies conjure up applications and software out of the thin air of their employees’ minds.
So, no wonder investors love to find the latest companies as soon as they can to invest in the attempt to capture that sort of alchemy.
And it shows in the performance of the technology sector of stocks. If you look at the S&P 500 Information Technology Sector Index over the past 10 years, it has generated a total return of 478.85% as compared to the general S&P 500 Index’s return of 282.42%.
S&P Information Technology Index vs. S&P 500 Index Total Return Source Bloomberg
But there are many challenges in investing in technology. One of them is the vast uncertainty of ideas going from start to viable. And then, even with viability, the companies behind them still have to perform as profitable companies — at least eventually. And along the way, they tend to share little of their wealth in dividend distributions to shareholders, as many tend to burn cash rather than piling it up. That’s why you don’t see so many of them among dividend stocks lists.
This shows up in the average dividend of the S&P Technology Index which is a paltry 1.37% as compared to the S&P 500 Index at 1.92%.
So, what about the idea of finding technology companies that are bringing new products to eager markets and that are profitable enough to pay better dividends? These companies do exist, and their shareholder are profiting from them with growth and income. Here are five from varied technology markets that are profitable and pay well.
Hercules Capital (HTGC)
Hercules Capital (NYSE:HTGC) is based in the Palo Alto, California, which is home of many of the tech companies of the past and future. The company is set up as a Business Development Company (BDC) and really operates much like a merchant bank. It searches out technology companies from varied sectors and provides financing for development. And in turn, it also takes equity stakes via varied means, including warrants, which provides additional payouts when the companies come to the public market or are sold to other, larger companies.
It has hundreds of companies in its portfolio and has had a series of major bold-faced names in its history of investments. And the returns to shareholders has been impressive. Over the past five years alone, the shares have generated a return of 52.6%
And this return comes with a nice dividend currently yielding 9.4%. The company has been increasing revenues by 8.8% and has an impressive net interest margin (the difference in funding costs to investment earnings) at 9.3%. This drives an impressive return on equity of 14.5%.
Yet the stock is still a bargain at only 1.34 times its book of asset. It makes for a great buy in a taxable account.
I know that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) isn’t an unknown company nor an undiscovered stock, even among dividend stocks. Yet it is a transforming company in the technology space. It has gone from a company that relied on unit sales of software packages and other products to services and products that are sold by subscription or on contract for recurring revenue.
And it performs for shareholder. For the past five years, it has generated a return of 254.75%.
It has done so with a big build-out of its cloud computing business and subscriptions for its software and other products. And this provides cash for its dividend yield of 1.5%. Revenues are up by 14.3% and its operating margin is fat at 33.1%, which in turn drives the return on shareholder’s equity to 40.1%.
The stock isn’t cheap, but the company keeps building up its underlying assets and sales, so a price to book at 10.12 times and a price to sales at 7.9 times isn’t that bad when both the book and the sales are climbing.
It should be bought in a tax-free account.
Digital Realty Trust (DLR)
Digital Realty Trust (NYSE:DLR) is a real estate investment trust (REIT) which owns and runs data centers around the U.S. and the globe. Data centers are vital to cloud computing and data processing for much to most of the technology world.
The stock has delivered with a return over the past five years of 158.5%.
The company pays an ample tax-advantaged dividend, yielding 3.7%. And it continues to perform with revenues gaining by 23.9% and its operating profit as measured from funds from operations (FFO) running at 16.4%.
And yet, the REIT is a value at only 2.84 times its impressive book of assets.
It should be bought in a taxable account.
NextEra Energy (NEE)
NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) is a utility company — and while those are often dividend stocks, that might not strike you as a technology company until you learn more about the company. It has a base of regulated power businesses serving Florida which provides a dependable flow of profits. And in turn, those profits work to fund its massive unregulated, tech-focuses wind and solar power businesses around the U.S. and beyond.
This has made the company into one of the largest wind and solar power companies in the world. And it has delivered profits to shareholders with the stock generating a return over the past five years of 120.4%.
And it pays is shareholders with a dividend of 2.7%. Revenues have improved by 11.85 times in just the past three years. The return on equity is running at 8.7%. And the stock is a value at only 2.63 times its book. The stock should be bought in a tax-free account.
FMC Corporation (FMC)
FMC Corporation (NYSE:FMC) is a very old company with a history of technology innovation. It has invented and sold countless products and services in varied industries and turn have delivered to shareholders. The past five years has seen a return of 30.7%.
Now, you’ll note that the profits have been coming more recently. This is due to the history of the company transforming itself and its focus from varied technologies over time. But now after some business sales and acquisitions over the past years it is now fully focused on the technology of improving agricultural production. It is a global leader in pesticide and herbicide products and services with pin-point technology in the type of products and their applications.
In a globe in vital need of more food and other agriculture products, FMC is the go-to Ag tech company. Revenue is soaring at 64.2% and its operating margins are at a fat 18.6% which helps to deliver a return on equity of 15.6%.
And its dividend yields 2% — not the cream of the dividend stocks crop, but still solid. The stock is also a value at only 3.73 times book and 2.2 times its rapidly rising sales. It should be bough in a tax-free account.
For more of my technology dividend stocks, please take a look at my Profitable Investing, which is now in its 30th year of publication.
Neil George is the editor of Profitable Investing and does not have any holdings in the securities mentioned above.