The question has been a hot topic of late, particularly because of tech-giant Apple, which is wondering what to do with the mountains of cash it has made selling iPhones across the globe. Should the company buy back its own shares? Reinvest into new technologies? Invest the money itself?
Most investors will answer “None of the above. We want a dividend.”
The experience of getting paid to wait while watching a stock simultaneously tack on gains in share price is a formula that makes for one of the great experiences in an investor’s life. It’s addictive.
But now that a sector rotation is underway on the TSX, and many investors who have had a taste of this experience, what do they do? Because of its high-growth nature, the technology sector is less likely to pay dividends than other sectors. Should investors new to the space abandon the idea of getting a ticket?
We posed this question to Ralph Garcea, Managing Director and Head of Research at Global Maxfin Capital Inc. Garcea points out that while a rare animal, there are in fact Canadian technology stocks that currently pay a dividend. More precisely, there are twelve of them.
Garcea thinks this list will soon grow: he thinks CGI Group, Descartes Systems and Amaya Gaming are likely candidates to initiate dividends over the next 12-18 months, or sooner.
Here are the current twelve, listed in order of their dividend yield.
1. Calian Technologies (TSX:CTY)
Dividend Yield: 5.7%
Calian, whose roots go back to 1982, when it was a small consulting firm now employs nearly 2500 people in offices across Canada. The company, which sells technology solutions to governments has grown slowly, but is consistently profitable. In its recently reprted Q2, Calian’s profit rose by 13%, year-over-year, to $3.7-million, on a topline that rose 4%, to $61.6-million. Revenue was up by 4% year-over-year, at $61.6 million from $59.4 million
2. Evertz Technologies (TSX:ET)
Dividend Yield: 4.3%
Dieter Evertz founded his eponymous company in 1966, before selling to a group that included current bosses Romolo Margarelli and Doug DeBruin, who came over from Leitch Technologies. The company went public in 2006, raising $67 million in a TSX IPO. Evertz remains as one of the last public companies standing from a once robust Canadian broadcasting technology sector. The company’s fiscal 2012 revenue of $293.4-million came from a product line that includes timecode equipment, closed captioning technology and multiviewers. Evertz’s products have been used in the production of Star Wars III, Rocky 6, CSI, Oprah and the 2008 Olympics.
3. Aastra Technologies (TSX:AAH)
Dividend Yield: 3.9%
Concord, Ontario based Aastra, which markets a range of telephony solutions for large businesses, has a surprisingly exciting stock chart for a business that seems inherently low beta. The company hit a high of more than $36 in 2010 before retreating to under $14 in 2011 on European exposure concerns. Most of 2012 was stable for Aastra, which is consistently profitable and routinely delivers its success back to shareholders in the form of share buybacks and ever-increasing dividends.
4. Wi-LAN (TSX:WIN)
Dividend Yield: 3.7%
Ottawa’s Wi-LAN has quietly become one of the world’s top patent acquirers, its pace is now on par or better than Apple, Google and Samsung. The company is now no stranger to patent infringement claims, having launched actions against dozens of multinationals, including Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Sony and Toshiba. Calculating the number of patents the company holds has become something of a moving target, because they keep adding more.
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5. C-Com Satellite (TSXV:CMI)
Dividend Yield: 3.3%
The lone TSX Venture listed company on the list, Ottawa’s C-Com Satellite provides satellite-based Internet access equipment.
6. Computer Modelling Group (TSX:CMG)
Dividend Yield: 3.1%
Computer Modelling Group is an Alberta technology success story. In 1978, the company was a small Calgary based research facility, and was actually a non-profit entity for the first seventeen years of its existence. When CMG decided to go for a profit, they were pretty good at it and continue to be; the company has more than doubled its revenue from $23.7 million in fiscal 2007 to more nearly $61 million in 2012. Today, CMG has five offices around the world, and is more likely to make a sale of its leading edge reservoir simulation software outside of Canada than here at home. The scope of CMG’s market has grown because reservoir simulation software has become an important tool for oil and gas companies. Computer models allow them to better predict the expected production, allowing for more better financial decisions.
7. Constellation Software (TSX:CSU)
Dividend Yield: 2.8%
Toronto-based Constellation was formed by current CEO Mark Leonard, who left the world of venture capital in 1995 to form the company, which has since become one of Canada’s most successful. Constellation, which makes software for the public and private sector, grows through acquisition, looking to acquire best of breed companies across different verticals. Constellation is involved in various niches on the public and private side from software for housing authorities, transportation agencies, and software for large home builders. Constellation, which has acquired nearly two-dozen companies since the beginning of 2011, has grown its revenue from just $243 million in fiscal 2007 to more than $773-million in 2011. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Tom Liston says Constellation’s management is among the very best allocators of capital in the technology sector.
7. Absolute Software (TSX:ABT)
Dividend Yield: 2.8%
Absolute Software sprung to attention midway through the last decade. In 2005, the company teamed up with Lojack to introduce Lojack for Laptops. The product, which worked by periodically dialing Absolute servers and could not be disabled even by wiping the hard drive, was a new level of security for laptops which were, increasingly, becoming a target for thieves.
The success of Lojack for Laptops was a boon to Absolute Software. The company’s revenue climbed from under $37 million in 2007 to more than $74-million in fiscal 2012. Along the way, Absolute made OEM deals with Acer, Dell, Fujitsu, Samsung, Toshiba, Intel and HP. Today, the bulk of the money the company makes is through these deals, but recent moves have the company moving aggressively into the mobile device market.
9. Macdonald Dettwiler (TSX:MDA)
Dividend Yield: 2.0%
On June 27th of last year, Macdonald Dettwiler announced it would pay (US) $875-million plus cash dividends and other payments from Space Systems/Loral, which the company expected to be in excess of (US) $135-million. Dan Friedmann, MDA’s president and CEO said the transaction, which essentially doubled the size of his company, was “game changing”. The Richmond, BC company, which was formed in 1969, was a pairing of the efforts of John MacDonald and Werner Dettwiler. Since then, MDA has been a part of the fabric of Canadian technology. The aerospace giant’s contribution to the Canadarm, a robotic space arm developed in the 1970′s to repair and service NASA space shuttles, is iconic. But the company has since been forced on the rocky road of reinvention. MDA’s very recent activities will be more familiar for those who had followed the company in its halcyon days. The company is the prime contractor for a spectrometer geology instrument called APXS, which allows NASA’s Curiosity rover to calculate the chemical composition of the rocks and soil on Mars.
9. Mediagrif Interactive: (TSX:MDF)
Dividend Yield: 2.0%
Founded in 1996, Longueuil, Quebec-based Mediagrif offers a range of e-commerce services through B2B platforms such as The Broker Forum, Power Source Online, and Carrus Technologies. The company became increasingly profitable as it grew its revenue from $47.9-million in 2009 to $53.8-million in 2012. In its recent Q3, Mediagrif earned $3.47-million on revenue of $15.1-million.
11. Open Text (TSX:OTC)
Dividend Yield: 1.6%
Open Text, which last year joined Waterloo peer Research in Motion in surpassing a billion dollars in revenue, has managed to remain profitable. The company, which sells software that enables companies to manage their content, has various product offerings that exist under a parade of acronyms that relate to the way companies use their content to collaborate and engage clients and meet regulatory requirements. These include Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Enterprise Information Management (EIM), Customer Experience Management (CEM) and Business Process Management (BPM). Open Text now has more than 5000 employees in 31 countries.
12. Enghouse Systems (TSX:ESL)
Dividend Yield: 1.4%
Telecom solutions provider Enghouse has been around since 1984, but appears to now be hitting its stride; shares of the company have been rising for the better part of two years. Markham based Enghouse provides software solutions for the most complex of call centers, managing customer interactions for banks, utilities and insurance companies. The Company has never been a market darling, but its fiscal performance have the stock at decade highs. The Company has grown its revenue from $55 million in fiscal 2007 to more than $136 million in 2012.