Not all that long ago, a Nasdaq listing of a stock was met with a bit of derision. While it wasn't as lowly as the "pink sheets," the up-and-coming exchange - which was more of a telecommunications network and less of an actual trading floor - just didn't have street cred. Thus, Nasdaq stocks weren't taken as seriously as the tickers associated with the New York Stock Exchange.
But a funny thing happened as the 1990s turned into the 2000s. Largely thanks to the explosive growth of Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL) - both of which were listed on the Nasdaq exchange - the little tech-heavy exchange began to be recognized as the place where investors could participate in the technology evolution.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Little has changed in the meantime. The Nasdaq still is a technology-oriented exchange, and still home to some of the stock market's most rewarding names. So rewarding, in fact, that they have driven the Nasdaq composite to numerous fresh highs in 2018.
Here's a rundown of 10 of the most compelling Nasdaq stocks. Some are familiar, some not so much. In all cases, though, these companies offer something special their peers don't.
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Market value: $5.4 billion
Most investors might not be familiar with MKS Instruments (MKSI, $97.95), but Wall Street analysts certainly are, and they love what they see. It's one of the few Nasdaq stocks the professionals rater better than a buy, leaning toward a strong buy - the highest possible rating. Better still, the average analyst price target of $137 is a whopping 40% higher than the stock's current price.
In May, Citi went so far as to name MKSI as its top mid-cap/small-cap in the technology fabrication equipment space.
MKS Instruments, as the name suggests, makes a variety of scientific instruments. From optical gas analysis to pressure measurement to motion control, the company makes solutions the average consumer couldn't care less about - but that the average manufacturer can't live without.
The results underscore that demand. MKS Instruments is expected to grow revenues by 14% this year, and the bottom line should expand at an even faster pace. For the record, MKSI has topped estimates in most of its recent quarters, by a lot.
The kicker: With MKSI priced at less than 14 times trailing earnings and a forward-looking price-to-earnings ratio of about 10, MKSI is an unusual bargain amid technology stocks.
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Copyright 2018 The Kiplinger Washington Editors