The tech space is littered with casualties of the post-pandemic consolidation, but careful investors can pick through the rubble to get some of the best long-term tech stocks at reasonable prices. The industry tends to come with higher-than-normal valuations, because investors expect exponential growth. It’s a rapidly changing landscape, and companies that ride the wave of the next big thing can deliver explosive growth.
However, rising inflation also mean a dollar in 10 years isn’t worth as much today as it was just a year ago. That simple mathematical fact means tech valuations have come down, but in some cases, arguably a little too far.
An excellent place to start your search for tech stocks to invest in for the long haul is hot industries. Artificial Intelligence is an obvious candidate, given all of the attention it’s been getting recently. It’s a market expected to grow at a compound annual rate of almost 40% through 2030. That kind of growth offers many possibilities, and investors would be silly to leave that sector out of the discussion.
Another critical area to explore is essential services. We’re not talking about healthcare here (though there are plenty of options in this arena as well). Rather, we’re talking about the businesses that support businesses.
Belt-tightening is a reality when times are lean, and it’s something we’re seeing across the board in the corporate world. But there are certain things a business can’t do without. Accordingly, the tech firms that provide those products and services will be well-positioned to thrive even in an uncertain environment.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) boasts an impressive portfolio of solid businesses that offer a layer of security in an otherwise unstable environment, making the firm one of the best long-term stocks to consider. Its offerings include some things businesses and consumers can’t live without. From LinkedIn to Office 365, there are plenty of must-haves that will never be struck off a company’s list of essentials.
These products offer a bedrock to build on, and Microsoft’s doing just that with its cloud arm, Azure. The pay-as-you-go cloud computing service provides an alternative to coping with the high up-front costs that come with building out your arsenal of servers. This means businesses using Azure can do more with less. These customers can scale up their tech offerings without much friction.
Microsoft’s also sitting on solid financials, allowing for strategic acquisitions and underpinning a modest dividend. This comes at a premium, with MSFT stock trading at a price-earnings ratio of 32-times. Although this suggests investors expect big things, it’s not as high as it has been in the past. Accordingly, now could be an excellent time to snap up shares before they take off.
ASML Holdings (ASML)
It’s often said that the miners weren’t the ones that made the big bucks during the gold rush. Instead, it was the sellers of shovels and pick-axes. ASML (NASDAQ:ASML) is the proverbial pick-axe seller in the semiconductor space, and Artificial Intelligence, self-driving cars, and cloud computing are all akin to the gold rush.
ASML makes the lithography machines used to make the chips themselves. They’re an essential part of the process, making ASML one of the best long-term tech stocks. The company’s main obstacle is shoring up its operations to grow and meet the ballooning demand for semiconductors. This is no easy feat, and will cost hundreds of millions of euros over the next five years. However, thanks to rock-solid financials, this growth looks doable.
Plus, the company’s valuation has decreased somewhat since its highs during the pandemic. That offers investors an attractive entry point as the boom in chipmaking continues to swell.
Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) offers customer relationship management software, a necessity for almost every business, making it one of the best long-term tech stocks to buy. The group’s been growing its portfolio to include a range of complimentary services allowing cross-selling. Their services give businesses the tools to enhance their customer relationships, offering meaningful value in a challenging environment. Acquiring new customers is much more complex and expensive than holding on to, and up-selling to, existing customers.
Over the past two years, CRM’s share price has decreased somewhat, bringing its valuation to more reasonable levels. The company has been hit by the same challenges everyone else has, leading to staff cuts and efficiency programs to protect margins. While this isn’t ideal, it’s not the end of the world, and won’t last forever. For patient investors willing to wait through this period of instability, Salesforce is a strong pick among tech stocks to buy for the long haul.
On the date of publication, Marie Brodbeck held shares in Microsoft. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.