Microsoft or Cisco: Which Dow Dog Is a Better 2011 Bet?

Tech leviathans Microsoft and Cisco Systems were among the five top "dogs of the Dow" in 2010. Which of the two is a better bet as we enter 2011?

Charlie Smith, chief investment officer and co-founder of Fort Pitt Capital Group, and Cliff Draughn, president and CIO of Excelsia Investment Advisors, offered CNBC their picks and analyses.

Smith: Microsoft

"They've gotten religion on expenses," Smith said.

He noted that Microsoft has been "growing their revenues at 9 or 10 percent for 10 years, growing their earnings at a compound rate of about 10 percent for 10 years. The problem is the multiple collapsed over that 10-year period."

But Smith said the firm has worked on changing the ratio:

"They've really gotten aggressive on expenses over the past 12, 15 months and I think that's going to make a difference in terms of earnings."

He also pointed to positive signs for Microsoft's Kinect gaming technology and notes its XBox has been doing well "all along." And Smith believes Microsoft's cloud computing business is going to show growth "for three to five years."

Draughn: Cisco

"Two words to describe Cisco: 'dominant and cheap,'" Draughn declared. But "right now, Cisco's stock price is the byproduct of some negative short-term sentiment," he believes.

Draughn pointed to some "absolute numbers" — including revenue, inventory turnover and profitability — as showing that "Cisco still maintains its moat around its castle compared to competitors."

"Networking needs continue to grow worldwide [and] Cisco has a dominant market share in the broadband connection space."

"Even more significant" is Cisco's P/E ratio and strong track record of cash accumulation, he said.

"In this dogfight, Cisco is going to emerge next year" as the victor."

Watch the interview to see Draughn's 2010 price target for Cisco.

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2010's Other 3 Top Dow Dogs:

Bank of America




Disclosure information was not available for Smith, Draughan or their companies.