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Keep an Eye on these 3 Networking Stocks in a Thriving Industry

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Increasing focus on cloud computing, network security, big data and cloud storage is expected to boost the Zacks Computer - Networking industry participants’ performance in the long run. The accelerated deployment of 5G is driving the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) devices and 5G smartphones, calling for solid networking infrastructure. This spurred the demand for networking products, favoring the prospects of prominent industry players like NetScout Systems (NTCT - Free Report) , NETGEAR (NTGR - Free Report) and Lantronix (LTRX - Free Report) . However, weak global economic conditions, inflation and volatile supply chain dynamics continue to be concerns.

Industry Description

The Zacks Computer - Networking industry comprises companies that offer networking and Internet-connected products, including wireless (WiFi and Long-Term Evolution or LTE), Ethernet and powerline, focusing on dependability and ease of use. The products are available in numerous configurations to cater to the changing requirements of consumers in each geographic territory where it operates. Some industry players also provide mission-critical IoT solutions and network security services to help clients build next-generation connected products and implement and manage critical communications infrastructures in demanding environments with enhanced safety levels. Focus on developing IoT sensors, drones and wearables amid increasing demand for cloud computing-based contact tracing applications is driving the industry.

4 Trends Influencing the Industry's Future

Innovation in Networking Technologies is Opening New Business Avenues: The growing clout of Smart Home and Internet-connected products such as Smart TVs, game consoles, High Definition (HD) streaming players, security cameras, thermostats and smoke detectors continue to drive innovations in networking. The rapid proliferation of IoT, the increasing popularity of smart connected devices and the growing adoption of cloud computing in network security fuel the demand for an efficient network support infrastructure. The advancements in AI and ML and the high adoption of cloud applications hold immense potential for companies in the industry. Enterprises are striving to manage fixed and wireless devices in a secured infrastructure. To address the demand, industry firms are driving innovation in networking technologies, including network virtualization and Software-Defined Networking (SDN), which favor growth prospects.

Rapid Deployment of 5G to Boost Growth Prospects: Adopting a hybrid/flexible work model triggered the demand for network-intensive applications like video conferencing and cloud services. This has accelerated 5G deployment globally. The success of 5G technology hinges on substantial investments to upgrade infrastructure in the core fiber backhaul network to support growth in data services. Efforts to develop smart connected homes, hospitals, factories, buildings, cities and self-driving vehicles bode well for industry players. These firms invest heavily in LTE, broadband and fiber to provide additional capacity and improve Internet and wireless networks. These initiatives hold promise.

The Uptick in Wi-Fi 6E Networking to Drive Momentum: Brisk technological advancement, dynamic products, high-speed connectivity, low latency and evolving industry standards define the Computer Networking industry. The growing clout of the latest Wi-Fi 6E-compliant residential gateways, Wi-Fi routers, set-top boxes and wireless range extenders is a testament to the same. The increasing demand to connect more devices to the network has been driving demand for Wi-Fi 6E devices. Wi-Fi 6E addresses Wi-Fi spectrum shortage issues by providing continuous channel bandwidth to support a higher number of connected devices without compromising speed. Moreover, the rollout of Wi-Fi 7 bodes well for the companies in this space.  

Relative Slowdown in IT Spending Amid Economic Turmoil Concerning: The industry participants grapple with weak macroeconomic conditions. Soft macro conditions will likely weigh on IT spending, at least in the near term. According to the latest Gartner report, worldwide IT spending is expected to increase 3.5% in 2023 from 2022 levels and reach around $4.7 trillion. For 2024, worldwide IT spending is projected to be $5.1 trillion, up 8% from 2023. Earlier, the research firm projected IT spending for 2023 and 2024 to increase by 4.3% and 8.8%, respectively. Nonetheless, device spending is expected to rebound modestly in 2024. Also, the software and IT services segments are anticipated to witness double-digit growth owing to higher cloud spending in 2024. Higher cybersecurity spending is also driving the software segment’s growth. Gartner added that spending on public cloud services is expected to increase by 20.4% in 2024. The report added that though generative AI does not yet have a material impact on IT spending, increasing investment in AI supports IT spending growth.

Zacks Industry Rank Indicates Bright Near-Term Prospects

The Zacks Computer - Networking Industry is housed within the broader Zacks Computer and Technology sector. It carries a Zacks Industry Rank of 107, positioning it in the top 43% of more than 251 Zacks industries.

The group’s Zacks Industry Rank, which is the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates bright near-term prospects. Our research shows that the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries outperform the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1.

Before we present a few stocks you may want to consider for your portfolio, considering bright prospects, let us look at the industry’s recent stock-market performance and valuation picture.

Industry Underperforms S&P 500 and the Sector

The Zacks Computer – Networking industry has underperformed both the S&P 500 composite and the broader Zacks Computer and Technology sector in the past year.

The industry is up 2.6% over this period compared with the broader sector’s gain of 45.1%. The S&P 500 has gained 20.6% over the same time frame.

One-Year Price Performance

Industry's Current Valuation

On the basis of the forward 12-month price-to-earnings ratio (P/E), which is a common multiple for valuing Computer – Networking stocks, we see that the industry is currently trading at 14.55X compared with the S&P 500’s 19.98X. It is also below the sector’s forward-12-month P/E of 24.97X.

In the past five years, the industry has traded as high as 20.33X and as low as 12.56X, with media being at 15.32X, as the charts below show.

Forward 12-Month P/E Ratio

Forward 12-Month P/E Ratio


3 Computer - Networking Stocks to Add to Watchlist

NETGEAR: Headquartered in San Jose, CA, NETGEAR, Inc. is a global telecommunications firm that offers innovative networking and Internet-connected products for seamless networking, broadband access, and network connectivity.

NTGR’s performance is being cushioned by robust demand for premium Wi-Fi mesh systems, 5G mobile hotspots and ProAV-managed switched products. It had 844,000 paid service subscribers at the end of the last reported quarter, up 26.7% year over year. The company expects to reach about 875,000 paid subscribers by the end of 2023.

Weakness in the SMB business segment due to continued channel inventory reductions by partners, owing to a volatile macroeconomic environment, is concerning.

At present, NETGEAR carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2023 earnings is pegged at a loss of 9 cents per share, unchanged in the past 30 days.

Price and Consensus: NTGR

NetScout Systems: The Westford, MA-based company provides performance management, cybersecurity and DDoS protection solutions. Demand trends for Service Assurance and Cybersecurity product lines for the long term remain healthy. Extensive cost-cutting efforts to manage discretionary spending bodes well.
The company is focused on advancing several technology initiatives, including Dynamic DDoS and Mobile DDoS security as well as Omnis Cybersecurity solutions. However, the company’s last reported quarter’s performance was affected by slowing order conversion stemming from industry and economic headwinds. NTCT expects these trends to persist into the second half of fiscal year 2024.  For fiscal 2024, the company now expects revenues (GAAP and Non-GAAP) in the range of $840-$860 million.

NetScout sports a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2024 earnings for has remained unchanged at $2.10 per share in the past 60 days.

Price and Consensus: NTCT

Lantronix: Based in Irvine, CA, Lantronix specializes in providing Industrial and Enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for high-growth applications in certain verticals, including Intelligent Transportation, Smart Grid, Smart Cities and AI Data Centers.

Recently, Lantronix teamed up with P3 Digital Services to build a pre-integrated hardware and software turnkey In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) platform. This platform will aid OEMs to accelerate time to market while lowering costs.

The company’s revenues totaled $33 million in the last reported quarter, up 4% year over year. Non-GAAP earnings of 7 cents per share came in line with the figure reported in the previous quarter.

For fiscal year 2024, the company anticipates revenue in the range of $175-$185 million and non-GAAP earnings in the range of 50-60 cents per share.

Lantronix carries a Zacks Rank #3. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fiscal 2024 is pegged at 58 cents per share, indicating an increase of 152.2% year over year.

Price and Consensus: LTRX


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Lantronix, Inc. (LTRX) - free report >>

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