Broad Appeal for Broadcom

It’s tough to find good, cheap technology stocks these days. I’ve been underweight the sector for many months due to a lack of good ideas. However, the recent market decline has given the Nasdaq a 9% haircut over the last few weeks.

Earlier this week I saw Broadcom (BRCM) cross my screen at $33 per share. That quote surprised me a bit. Broadcom is a very good chip company but its stock usually reflects that. Growth investors have traditionally been perfectly willing to fork over 30 times earnings for the stock. That’s fine, but rarely will I pay up that much for something. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever owned Broadcom.

My instincts told me that BRCM hadn’t traded at $33 for a while, which is why the price alone got my attention even though the stock is not really on my radar screen, so I took a closer look. It last closed there during the first week of the year, so it’s been more than 5 months.

Looking at current estimates ($1.47 in EPS for 2006 and $1.66 for 2007) along with the company’s pristine balance sheet ($4 per share in cash and no debt), Broadcom trades at an enterprise value to earnings ratio of only 20x for 2006. That seems very reasonable for a 15% long term grower that serves some of the best markets within technology.

I still think the market as a whole goes lower, and tech will get whacked more as well. That said, Broadcom at $33 looks like an opportunity that I’ll strongly consider despite a market that has not yet gotten the 10% correction that I’m looking for.

And just in case readers might think I purposely failed to mention the options backdating issue (Broadcom’s name has been mentioned as being “at risk”), that is not so. I plan on talking about the issue more broadly (no pun intended), so look for that sometime next week.