Tech's in the Money

11/10/2009 1:00 pm EST

Focus: ETFS

Jim Lowell

Senior Partner & Chief Investment Strategist, Adviser Investments

Jim Lowell, editor of Forbes ETF Advisor, says technology spending is likely to remain strong into next year, and he likes three ETFs that cover tech stocks well.

Ahead of (and now even in light of) the Nasdaq Composite index’s 36.6% year-to-date gain, I remain bullish on technology heading into 2010.

Critically, my view of technology’s probable rebound parallels my past assessment and assertion that this year would likely deliver a jobless recovery wherein technology would be the leverage that companies used to comport production efficiency as set against the dramatic downsizing in human labor to the point where profitability couldn’t be ruled out as early as the third quarter of this year.

We now know that this part of the trajectory has been confirmed (if not universally shared) among technology companies. But the trajectory of increased earnings growth as meted by greater profitability relies upon the probability for economic recovery.

That probability remains the third rail as we chug toward the dark tunnel of 2010. The tunnel is “dark,” because we have no real visibility yet as to where we may be headed in 2010. But the rail of probable recovery is live and still as compelling, thanks to third-quarter earnings and forecasts.

Corporate spending has the means to upgrade legacy technology systems, the way (thanks in part to the October launch of Windows 7), leaving only the will as potentially lacking. Moreover, we know that consumers haven’t backed down from IT (information technology) spending.

Still I think corporate and consumer IT [customers] will lack the will to spend if economic conditions signal a reversal of the current probability for recovery. We will be watching the data for signs of such a reversal closely; even a stall could forestall scalable IT spending, which is the necessary fuel for the next leg of technology’s trajectory.

But I think the current environment is likely to propel scalable and back-and-forth buy-in as businesses big and small (who skipped major upgrades thanks to the book-end recessions of 2002-2002 and 2008-2009 amid Windows Vista’s inability to countermand staying plugged into legacy systems) and consumers upgrade.

With that in mind, I’m upgrading several tech-specific ETFs.

IShares S&P Global Technology (NYSEArca: IXN), rated Buy, [offers]broad coverage of the technology universe. Keyed to the Standard & Poor’s Global Information Technology Sector Index, IXN began trading in November 2001 and has a market value of $386 million.

SPDR Technology Select Sector (NYSEArca: XLK) [is also rated] Buy. My go-to tech-sector ETF, the XLK seeks investment results that correspond to the price and yield performance of the Technology Select Sector index. It began trading in December 1998 and has a market value of almost $3.9 billion.

Vanguard Information Technology (NYSEArca: VGT), [another] Buy, seeks investment results that correspond to the price and yield performance of the MSCI US Investable Market Information Technology Index. It began trading in January 2004 and has a market value of almost $711 million.

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