3 sleeping giants set to bounce higher

Cisco, Oracle and Microsoft are ready to adjust their corporate strategies to face the competition head on.

By TheStreet Staff Aug 20, 2012 11:39AM

By Richard Saintvilus


I've always been the type of investor who never sacrifices value for growth. While there are certainly companies such as Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) that are able to offer both qualities, sometimes investors are willing to risk too much on the promises offered by the "soup de jour" of a Chipotle (CMG) or Salesforce.com (CRM).


That's all well and good, except of course until the growth stops. Then what? We turn to the old reliable -- value.


While the word "value" does not always yield a consensus, there are always certain companies that are consistently on a short list of names where it is safe to say the price of the company's stock relative to its potential is likely to appreciate over time -- or the stock is undervalued.


Apple is one of them. It systematically does things to widen its lead in any market it chooses. Yet, nobody has been able to comprehensively appraise the company and explain its true value.


Although it has received price targets as high as $1,200, Apple has recently demonstrated its ceiling is really whatever it wants it to be. From the standpoint of price-to-earnings ratio it has been the cheapest stock on the market for a number of years. How else can it make sense that Facebook (FB) deserves a higher price-to-earnings ratio? Apple should be a part of every portfolio and, for that matter, a balanced diet.


Another name that deserves consideration is Oracle (ORCL), a company that continues to be one of the most undervalued on the market today. The company recently announced net income of $3.5 billion, or 69 cents per share, for the period ending in May. This compares favorably to what it produced last year when it earned $3.2 billion and 62 cents per share.


So I continue to wonder how is it possible that a rival such as the aforementioned Salesforce can command a forward price-to-earnings ratio that is seven times that of Oracle while it still reports negative earnings?


For that matter, other market leaders such as Cisco (CSCO) and Microsoft (MSFT) continue to be treated with the same level of disrespect, while the market continues to ignore their true value. (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)


As with Cisco and Oracle, Microsoft seems to suffer from the shrugged shoulder reaction of Wall Street. Be that as it may, each of them continues to churn out one good quarter after the next while also paying excellent yields.


However, aside from that there are yet many catalysts to propel their growth in the near term. In particular, Microsoft is poised to deliver the level of growth that investors crave.


Not only is it on the verge of releasing its game-changing Windows 8 OS, it has also announced its new Surface tablet to challenge Apple's iPad, even at the risk of alienating what has previously worked.


What is clear is that, as with Cisco and Oracle, Microsoft understands what is now at stake. Each is willing to make changes to their models and/or their corporate strategies in order to meet the competitive advantages offered by their rivals.


For these reasons I consider Cisco, Oracle and Microsoft not only to be three of the highly overlooked stocks on the market, but sleeping giants that represent a considerable amount of value that are now primed for growth.


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