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Forget Apple: fund managers reveal their alternative tech stock picks

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Apple hit the headlines this week after it was revealed billionaire investor Warren Buffett's firm Berkshire Hathaway has bought $1bn of shares in the tech giant.

But Apple is far from the only interesting name in the tech space. There are plenty of firms to pick from, offering compelling investment opportunities.

Below, four fund managers reveal their top alternative tech stock picks.

Tesla: ‘a revolutionary company’ 

Josh Spencer, manager of the T. Rowe Price Global Technology Equity fund, says there are a number of companies with competitive advantages exploiting some of the mega trends in tech – such as cloud computing and other disruptive technologies.

Tesla, which designs and manufactures electric vehicles, is one name the manager is particularly bullish on over the long term.

He says: “We believe it is a revolutionary company, which is addressing an enormous market with differentiated technology. The consumer response to the recently-unveiled Model 3 has been fantastic, and we do not see any reason why Tesla cannot scale up production to meet the demand for its product and grow substantially in the coming years.”

Oracle: ‘the same success as Microsoft?’

Colin McQueen, manager of the Sanlam FOUR Stable Global Equity fund, continues to have high conviction in the prospects for software giant Oracle.

“Oracle is a stable company with a wide economic moat and good management. It is currently being priced for zero to low growth. Even if Oracle’s economic moat is slowly being eroded, the stock is too cheap.”

McQueen says the market is “underestimating the stickiness of the customer base” and the extent to which Oracle has expanded its product portfolio to include new technologies, new platforms, and the way it is managing its transition to the Cloud.

“While in an earlier stage of its transition, we believe Oracle can repeat the same success as Microsoft,” McQueen says.

Wirecard: ‘no reason to expect growth to slow’

Nicolas Walewski, manager of the Alken European Opportunities and Absolute Return Europe funds, calls Wirecard “one of the most attractive investment opportunities in Europe.”

The manager acknowledges the German payments processor has underperformed the broader market recently, but he believes that was “largely attributable to an extremely dubious report from an anonymous source.”

He says: “Wirecard has had three extensive reviews from the German financial regulator BaFin in recent years and there has never been any cause for concern. It has a strong relationship with MasterCard and Visa, managing hundreds of billions of dollars in transactions, also without any problems. It is opening businesses in the US and Singapore, again without complications.

“The company has been growing at about 25% per annum over the last decade and there is no reason to expect this growth to slow over the coming few years. At a 16x forward P/E, the stock is very attractively valued.”

Blue Prism: ‘market leader in robotic process automation’

Philip Harris, manager of the EdenTree UK Equity Growth fund, sees a compelling opportunity in software robots and robotic process automation (RPA), highlighted by one study showing 47% of US jobs could be automated within the next 10 years.

According to Harris, the market leader in RPA is Blue Prism.

“The investment case is that any repetitive task can be automated by rule-based processes. This presents huge cost and productivity savings. This recurring revenue stream licence fee model is the equivalent ‘wage’ of the software robot,” he says.

“While there is limited patent protection in respect of Blue Prism’s technology, IBM’s position as key partner underlines that the technology is not easily replicable. The US key market business remains pivotal and the company continues to grow its channel pipelines to drive sales. The company maintains high gross margins. However, it is highly operationally geared with new customers and may be lossmaking while it grows rapidly. Earnings forecasts remain conservative.”

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