GO
Loading...

Up, up and away! Tech trading above bubble highs

Stocks like Microsoft and Cisco may sound old school these days compared with Google and Facebook, but some of the old time major tech plays are trading at levels not seen since the dot com bubble.

Nearly one-fifth of the S&P 500's value comes via the technology sector. That means investors put a lot of emphasis on these stocks, especially during earnings season. About 50 companies in the tech sector have been around since the dot com bubble; 23 of them are now worth more than they were in early March of 2000.

Apple is one poster child for this tech turnaround. The stock was worth between $4 and $5 in March of 2000. Today, it's closing in on $100 after transforming itself from a maker of niche market personal computers to a consumer-focused tech behemoth specializing in just about everything computing and mobile related.

Tech since the bubble

Ticker
S&P 500 Member
Last
Close on
3/10/2000
%Chg from Tech
Bubble High
FLIR FLIR Systems, Inc. 33.95 1.23 2667
AAPL Apple Inc. 94.65 4.49 2007
CTSH Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp Class A 49.58 2.56 1837
WDC Western Digital Corporation 99.48 5.19 1818
APH Amphenol Corporation Class A 96.34 10.77 795
FISV Fiserv, Inc. 62.86 11.38 454
ADSK Autodesk, Inc. 56.54 13.72 312
HRS Harris Corporation 74.38 18.31 306
ADBE Adobe Systems Incorporated 72.24 20.81 247
INTU Intuit Inc. 81.67 29.22 179
SYMC Symantec Corporation 23.36 10.1 131
EBAY eBay Inc. 51.88 24.16 115
TSS Total System Services, Inc. 31.7 15.88 99
FFIV F5 Networks, Inc. 109.35 57.88 89
NVDA NVIDIA Corporation 18.68 9.83 89
ADP Automatic Data Processing, Inc. 81.14 44.13 84
IBM International Business Machines Corporation 192.04 105.25 82
EA Electronic Arts Inc. 38.6 23.2 66
MCHP Microchip Technology Incorporated 48.65 30.75 58
SNDK SanDisk Corporation 93.7 62.91 49
LRCX Lam Research Corporation 72.12 54.15 33
PAYX Paychex, Inc. 42.02 33.92 24
QCOM QUALCOMM Incorporated 79.67 68.06 17
Source: CNBC Analytics

Apple reported third-quarter earnings of $1.28 per share on $37.4 billion in revenue, versus estimates of $1.23 a share on $37.9 billion in revenue. Despite top-line growth slightly below estimates, Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC he "couldn't be happier." Analysts think Apple's run can continue with an average price target of $103, or 9 percent upside from current levels, according to FactSet. Of course, Apple's future performance will be largely contingent on how the highly anticipated iPhone 6 and smart watch release will go.

Read MoreApple Q3 2014 earnings

The biggest gainer in the S&P Tech sector during that time frame is FLIR Systems, up an astounding 2,643 percent from its bubble price of $1.23. Many analysts continue to be bullish on the thermal imaging company, estimating a 13 percent upside in the stock.

Another stock that has eclipsed its bubble peak is SanDisk, up 48 percent since March 2000. The $23 billion data storage company makes products such as removable memory cards for digital cameras and flash memory products for mobile devices. SanDisk shares have been on a tear up 33 percent so far this year.

Blue chip IBM is also trading above its price during the dot com bubble. IBM has been an underperformer over the past year, down a little more than 1 percent, but longer-term investors can still say the company is 82 percent better than in March 2000. The company's transition from hardware into computer services has helped fuel some of those gains.

Electronic Arts is another big gainer, also reporting after the bell today. Back at the height of the dot com boom, it was a $23 stock. It was trading Tuesday at $38. The boom in traditional video games and new consoles has powered the stock. But now, questions remain about whether a huge shift to mobile devices will leave the stock behind. Analysts have a target price just about where shares are traded now.

Read MoreEarnings early returns boost hopes

Solid earnings might tip a few other stocks past their trading prices from the bubble. Microsoft, which reported fourth-quarter revenue above analyst expectations, is only 11 percent off its price in March 2000. Microsoft's fourth-quarter revenue came in at $23.3 billion, versus an estimated $20 billion, but profit fell by 7 percent, mostly due to the costs of its struggling Nokia business.

Oracle is even closer to beating its bubble price, currently down about 2 percent from its price of $40 during the dot com bubble. Oracle reported fourth-quarter earnings below analyst estimates, deepening concerns over its cloud business, but the stock is still up around 5 percent so far this year.

Still, the S&P 500 Tech sector overall has yet to recover from the bubble. S&P Tech is down roughly 28 percent from its price on March 10, 2000. Telecom is the only other sector that has failed to surpass its bubble price. It is still down almost 49 percent from its highs in March 2000.

—By CNBC's Elizabeth Schulze and Dominic Chu. Gina Francolla contributed to this report.

  • Patti Domm

    Patti Domm is CNBC Executive Editor, News, responsible for news coverage of the markets and economy.

  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

  • CNBC Personal Finance Correspondent

  • JeeYeon Park is a writer for CNBC.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC

  • Rick Santelli joined CNBC Business News as an on-air editor in 1999, reporting live from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.

  • Senior Producer at CNBC's Breaking News Desk.