After years of huge investments, 5G is finally getting ready for prime time. This makes now a good time to look for 5G stocks that will benefit the most.
5G stands for the next generation for mobile networks. It’s a global standard that is expected to have far-reaching impacts for consumers and businesses.
As InvestorPlace Markets Analyst Luke Lango breaks it down: “going from 4G to 5G is like going from horses to cars, or from hot air balloons to airplanes. It’s a once-in-a-life-time transition, which — much like the transition to cars and airplanes did — will open up a world of infinite possibilities.”
This might seem like typical hype, but when you look at the metrics for 5G, they certainly standout. The speeds are expected to be as much as 100 times faster than 4G systems. There will also be much less latency — that is, with connections to the cloud. All this will mean that technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will become more powerful and useful.
So then, what are some of the 5G stocks to consider? Well, let’s take a look at seven:
- Ciena (NYSE:CIEN)
- Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA)
- Nokia (NYSE:NOK)
- AT&T (NYSE:T)
- Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM)
- Crown Castle International (NYSE:CCI)
- Vuzix (NASDAQ:VUZI)
Here’s what makes each among the best 5G stocks to consider now.
5G Stocks: Ciena (CIEN)
Ciena was one of the red-hot networking operators during the dot-com era. The shares would fetch over $800 in 2000.
Unfortunately, this would not last long. After the bubble burst, CIEN stock would go on to languish for many years.
Yet the fortunes may be starting to turn — and this may be more than just a temporary thing. The main reason is that 5G will require heavy investments in network infrastructure to handle the huge volumes of bandwidth. For example, Ciena was the first to introduce an 800 gig system to the market, which has seen strong traction. It also helps that the company has expertise in fiber optics and software-defined networking.
But there is another potential catalyst for the company: the growing use of sanctions against Chinese giant, Huawei. This should open up more business opportunities across the world.
While revenue growth has been sluggish, the company has been able to improve margins. In other words, as Ciena gets more business from 5G, there should be leverage on the bottom line.
Nvidia may seem like an odd choice for a 5G stock. So why list it then? Well, the reason is that 5G will supercharge AI. This is because a considerable amount of the processing of the algorithms can be done in the cloud. The bottom line is that there will be even more demand for Nvidia’s GPUs, which have become a must-have for AI in the datacenter.
Perhaps the most useful application of this will be with self-driving vehicles. The fact is that the technology has proven considerably more difficult than expected. After all, there are seemingly limitless possibilities when it comes to navigating a car. However, if the processing can be done in the cloud, this should go a long way in helping to make autonomous vehicles a reality.
Now it’s true that NVDA stock is far from cheap, with the price-to-earnings multiple at 85x. Although, given the growth profile, a premium is definitely warranted.
Nokia Corporation (NOK)
Nokia has had a knack for disappointing investors. But after years of restructuring, things may be finally getting back on track.
Since March, NOK stock has gone $2.43 to $5. But this may be just the start to a durable rally.
The company is one of the world’s largest mobile equipment operators and has about 16% of market share (a key to this was the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent in 2015). This scale is certainly essential in the 5G world.
The most recent earnings report certainly is encouraging for the bull case for NOK stock. While sales did fall — primarily due to the disruptions of the pandemic — there was a 21% increase in earnings. This is a testament to the company’s lean cost structure but also due to its efforts to steer away from lower margin businesses. In fact, NOK announced an upgrade for the 2020 adjusted earnings forecast of €0.20 to €0.30, up from €0.18 to €0.28.
Last month, AT&T announced that it completed the national rollout of its 5G network. The coverage was for 205 million consumers across 395 markets.
The massive infrastructure is likely to be transformative to the company. Keep in mind that AT&T has been acquiring content assets to leverage on this. The biggest deal was for Time Warner (the price tag was about $108 billion). As a result, AT&T has been able to create a streaming video service, called HBO Max, which has about 36 million subscribers. As of next year, the service will have an ad-supported version.
Even with the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, AT&T has continued to generate strong free cash flows. They came to $11.5 billion for the first half of this year. It definitely helps that the company has a stable mobile subscriber base of 165.9 million.
Finally, T stock offers an attractive dividend yield, which is currently at 7%. Note that the company has increased the payout every year since 1985.
Among the key 5G stocks to pay attention to, Qualcomm appears the best positioned to benefit. The company has been an innovator in all the generations in mobile standards — going back to the 1980s. A key part of the strategy has been to amass a powerful set of intellectual property and then license it out to customers. The result is a high-margin stream of recurring revenues.
As a testament to Qualcomm’s technology, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) dropped its lawsuit against the company primarily because it was struggling to come up with alternatives for 5G. Qualcomm was also able to get a multi-year licensing deal with Huawei, which was certainly another sign of the company’s leverage.
Then again, Qualcomm has seen continued momentum with its design wins, which are at over 660. They are for a series of Snapdragon chips and X55 modems. Consider that the new six series is accessible to over two billion smartphone users across the globe.
As for QCOM stock, it has been in the rally mode lately, going from $61 in March to $110 today. But this is probably just a warm up. Given the company’s technology portfolio and its deals with numerous large companies, there is likely to be an acceleration in growth in the coming years.
Crown Castle International (CCI)
Crown Castle International is a leading mobile tower company. The primary focus is the U.S. market where it has over 40,000 installations and about 80,000 route miles of fiber optic lines.
What’s particularly attractive about CCI stock — from the 5G perspective — is that many of its locations are for dense environments like stadiums and office spaces. For the most part, these are the kinds of areas that could leverage 5G for a myriad of applications, whether streaming, collaboration or even sports wagering.
CCI stock is structured as a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), which means that it has tax incentives to pay dividends. For example, the yield is at about 3%. But with the strong growth in 5G, it seems like a good bet their will be continued strong capital gains as well.
Founded in 1997, Vuzix is a developer of smart glasses. The technology helps to minimize the motion sickness that is common with VR and AR. Vuzix has also made its system fairly lightweight. But with 5G, there should be a significant improvement in the immersive experiences.
This can mean better gaming devices as well as powerful enterprise solutions. Keep in mind that the company has already built successful applications for manufacturing, remote sport, warehousing, navigation and training.
Over the years, VUZI stock has been stuck in a stubborn range. But lately, there has been a nice move to the upside — and it should be more than temporary. In fact, the company’s technology has seen more interest because it can be helpful with the move to remote workforces.
Vuzix has also been assembling an impressive portfolio of intellectual property. To this end, it has over 157 patents and patents pending on its technology. All of this stacks up to make it one of the hottest 5G stocks to buy now.
Tom Taulli (@ttaulli) is an advisor and author of various books and online courses about technology, including Artificial Intelligence Basics, The Robotic Process Automation Handbook and Learn Python Super Fast. He is also the founder of WebIPO, which was one of the first platforms for public offerings during the 1990s. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.