Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) is finally enjoying a little bit of relief. Intel’s stock price jumped three percent on Tuesday and has advanced nearly five points from its recent lows. But Intel stock is still in the doghouse compared to the overall market. The S&P 500 looks set to reach new all-time highs in coming weeks, and tech stocks are roaring higher as well.
Intel’s malaise is easy to understand. It is wildly out of favor at the moment, as are other leading semiconductor companies. That’s because it’s hard to handicap just how long the trade war will continue dragging on. And companies like Intel are highly reliant on China for product sales.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that Intel’s big bounce on Tuesday came with President Trump tweeting about progress in talks with China. Regardless, however, of whether a deal comes soon or still takes a while, INTC stock is a solid bargain at today’s levels.
Intel Asks For Huawei Relief
While a lot of U.S. companies have been caught in the trade war crossfire, chipmakers have suffered the worst. That’s because Chinese equipment makers tend to be the leading customers for many of these firms.
Reuters reported that Huawei, for example, buys $70 billion per year of components. Of this, they spend roughly $11 billion on parts from American suppliers. Intel, Qualcom (NASDAQ:QCOM), and Micron (NASDAQ:MU) lead the way in sales to Huawei. Not surprisingly, these firms have appealed directly to the government for trade war relief.
Intel’s executives spoke with the Commerce Department in May, and Qualcomm has been actively lobbying the government as well. If no action is taken, Huawei is expected to shrink its international smartphone shipments by around 50 percent.
It’s unclear if these efforts will sway President Trump and his aides, but Trump is clearly motivated by trying to make the stock market go up. Trump has complained about Fed Chair Powell’s tighter monetary policy and suggested that the Dow Jones index would be 10,000 points higher if the Fed had acted appropriately.
He also tends to tweet positive remarks about the economy whenever the market is sliding. With that backdrop, one has to think Trump will try to make a deal, particularly if semiconductor companies continue to slump in the interim.
Intel Stock: Super Cheap
In a frothy tech market, Intel remained a bastion of value in recent years. In late 2017, that suddenly changed, however. Intel’s stock price soared from $35 to nearly $60 inside of a year. That ended Intel’s nearly 20 year period of stagnant stock performance following the tech bust of 2001.
However, Intel stock has given back much of its recent gains. With shares down more than 20% from the recent highs while earnings continue to surge, Intel is a bargain again.
How much so? It’s now trading at 11x trailing earnings and just 10x forward earnings. Sure, there are some reasons for concern. Normally, also-ran AMD (NASDAQ:AMD) doesn’t cause Intel much trouble. AMD, for the moment, is offering one of its most compelling product line-ups in the past decade, and that has caused some concern for Intel’s market share.
Make no mistake though, Intel still has far more resources and a much larger research budget. They’ll keep dominating the PC chip industry for years to come. Meanwhile, other growth ventures such as Intel’s push into self-driving vehicle tech offer great potential in coming years. It’s amazing how the market is giving so little credit to Intel’s growth prospects. Just 15x forward earnings would lift Intel’s stock price to $67 per share.
Strong Dividend Policy
Intel stock is also a reliable source of dividend income. With bond yields cratering again, investors have been racing into defensive stocks like utilities, REITs, and consumer staples. So far, investors haven’t flocked into Intel yet. But, as an effective tech utility with a great balance sheet, conservative income investors should gravitate to Intel sooner or later.
At this point, Intel is paying a 2.7% dividend. That’s not huge, but it’s well above the S&P 500 and the 10-year treasury bond which are both at 2.0% or lower. And that tends to come with solid dividend growth as well. Intel has averaged 8%, 6%, and 8% compounded dividend growth over the past three, five, and ten years, respectively.
Intel Stock Verdict
No one knows how long the trade war will continue to drag on. I’d predicted that it would wrap up by now, and I’ve been wrong about that. Traders don’t have a good sense either, judging by how much the market swings erratically on every new tweet from Trump’s twitter account.
Looking at the bigger picture, however, it’s kind of silly how much impact the trade war has caused for Intel’s share price. The company remains one of the most dominant positions in the tech industry. And for the first time in a while, it has a robust pipeline of growth opportunities that can cause the company’s overall revenues and earnings to boom again.
With the stock market pushing to new highs, Intel should catch up once trade drama simmers down. I see Intel stock hitting $60 per share – just 13x forward earnings – in the coming months.
At the time of this writing, Ian Bezek owned INTC and QCOM stock. You can reach him on Twitter at @irbezek.
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