Stocks to buy

It’s been a tough year for the stocks of companies involved in fifth-generation (5G) wireless internet. While tech stocks have led the market higher year-to-date (YTD), 5G stocks have been left out of the party. The stocks of the biggest internet service providers in the U.S. are all in the red for the year as investors shun the sector and crowd into tech firms focused on artificial intelligence (AI). This means there is an opportunity to get some of the best 5G stocks to buy while they are discounted.

The S&P 500 Internet Select Industry Index is up a marginal 5% over the last year compared to a 24% gain in the Nasdaq. The reasons for the underperformance are many and include heated competition that has led to price cuts, a decline in consumer and business demand due to economic uncertainty and a slow rollout of 5G wireless infrastructure. The good news is that many 5G stocks look to be at or near a bottom, presenting an opportunity for investors. Here are three 5G stocks with explosive upside potential.

Verizon Communications (VZ)

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There’s no question that Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) has had a rough ride over the last few years. So far in 2023, VZ stock is down 9%, dragging its one year performance to a negative return of 28%. While unimpressive, there are some reasons for cautious optimism regarding Verizon. First, the stock looks to have bottomed in early June right around $34 a share, its lowest level in five years. Since then, the share price has risen 5% and the trend line appears to be moving in the right direction.

VZ stock is also attractive right now given its dirt cheap valuation. With a price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) of 7, Verizon looks to be among the most undervalued technology stocks available. Patient investors who take a position can enjoy a quarterly dividend payment that currently yields 7.16%, among the highest of any tech stock, while they wait for the share price to recover. The dividend equates to a 65 cents per share payment every three months. The company is also in the process of establishing a new management team, which could help.

Qualcomm (QCOM)

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Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) hasn’t been entirely left out of this year’s rally in microchip and semiconductor stocks, but its definitely lagged behind its competitors in terms of performance. YTD QCOM stock is up 14%. Compare that to a 200% YTD gain for Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA). Qualcomm has been hampered by the fact that its chips and semiconductors are used almost exclusively to enable wireless internet and mobile communications and it has no significant role in AI.

However, investors should keep in mind that Qualcomm remains a major player in 5G wireless internet technology. Additionally, QCOM stock has a solid long-term performance, with the share price up 110% over the last five years. The company’s P/E ratio looks low relative to its peers at 13 and Qualcomm is one of the few microchip and semiconductor companies to pay a dividend. With a yield of 2.61%, or 80 cents a share per quarter, it’s a generous dividend.

Ciena (CIEN)

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Another company that is critical to wireless internet connectivity and whose stock looks to have bottomed recently is Ciena (NYSE:CIEN). The company makes the networking equipment, particularly optical connectivity and switches, that facilitate high-speed internet, including 5G wireless. Ciena’s customers are wireless internet providers such as Verizon and AT&T (NYSE:T). The company has annual revenue of more than $3.5 billion and 8,000 employees.

In terms of its share price performance, CIEN stock is essentially flat over the past year (down 0.56%) after a 13% decline in 2023. However, the picture improves the further out one looks, with the stock up 80% over five years. As with the other names on this list, Ciena’s stock looks like it might have recently hit bottom. Since early June, the share price has climbed 7% higher. While Ciena doesn’t pay a dividend, its stock looks fairly valued right now with a P/E ratio of 32, which is about average for a tech company its size.

On the date of publication, Joel Baglole held a long position in NVDA. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines

Joel Baglole has been a business journalist for 20 years. He spent five years as a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and has also written for The Washington Post and Toronto Star newspapers, as well as financial websites such as The Motley Fool and Investopedia.

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