These overlooked tech companies are more exciting than Apple, says ex-BlackRock manager

Relief over well-received results from Apple and Facebook may not be enough to fuel another S&P 500 record on Thursday, as rumblings on the trade front are getting in the way.

Those big tech names are an integral part of our call of the day from BlueBox Asset Management’s co-portfolio manager William De Gale who says it’s time for investors to look past the household names to companies on the cutting edge of the next big technology shift — connecting computers to the real world.

“I want to own companies that are going to be dramatically better than five years from today,” the former BlackRock tech fund manager tells MarketWatch in an interview.

De Gale lays out a couple of reasons why he’s less keen on Apple: shares have been underperforming for years (see his chart below) and there’s really no new product to dazzle investors.

Bloomberg, BlueBox Asset Management

In the Global Technology Fund he manages, he offers up alternatives like decades-old Texas Instruments

TXN, -0.03%.

“It makes power management integrated circuits, a very small, very cheap chip that controls the flow around a circuit, and basically allows a battery to last as long as possible,” said De Gale, who adds that Texas Instruments has very little competition.

Then there’s EPAM Systems

EPAM, -0.65%,

a software services company that made Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list for 2019. “They write software for companies that can’t do it themselves, mostly working for non-tech companies,” so in a sense a “sophisticated niche business,” he says.

Also Cadence Design Systems

CDNS, -2.29%,

which writes software to help chip designers design chips. De Gale says it stands out among the competition — Synopsys

SNPS, -0.42%

and Mentor Graphics — acquired in 2016 by Germany’s Siemens

SIE, -1.07%

The market

The Dow

DJIA, -0.76%

, S&P 500

SPX, -0.58%

and Nasdaq futures

COMP, -0.39%

are off to a sluggish start after a report Chinese officials are doubting a viable long-term U.S. trade deal can be struck. Europe stocks

SXXP, -0.40%

are also sliding, and the Shanghai Composite

SHCOMP, -0.35%

fell after China manufacturing hit an 8-month low.

The chart

Our chart of the day from Citigroup analyst Ephrem Ravi, highlights how prices of palladium

PAZ19, -1.34%,

a key component used in electronics and new technologies, have soared this year as the metal shrugs off macroeconomic worries.

Citi

Ravi sees palladium reaching $2,000 an ounce over the next three months from around $1,782 currently on an improved global economic view. But longer term, U.S.-China trade tensions pose a risk for the metal, he says.

The buzz
Reuters

Apple

AAPL, +2.06%

shares are climbing on upbeat earnings and a holiday forecast, though iPhone revenue fell again. Meanwhile, its trade-in program is booming.

Facebook

FB, +2.34%

stock is surging on a revenue leap. On the earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckeberg leaped to the defense of political ads, and touched on antitrust probes.

Earnings for Thursday include chemicals giant DuPont

DD, +1.41%,

food processing group Archer Daniels

ADM, +2.81%

and food group Kraft Heinz

KHC, +12.56%

.

Fiat Chrysler

FCAU, +4.41%

FCA, +9.06%

shares are climbing, but those of PSA Peugeot

UG, -12.40%

are down after the two companies announced a 50/50 merger.

The economy

Data showed weekly jobless claims climbing as consumer spending rose, while the Chicago purchasing managers index is still ahead.

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