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Is ASML Holding N.V. (ASML) The Best Hardware Stock To Buy According to Hedge Funds?

We recently compiled a list of the 15 Best Hardware Stocks According to Hedge Funds. In this article, we are going to take a look at where ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML) stands against the other hardware stocks.

With the first half of 2024 nearly over, artificial intelligence continues to play a dominant role in the stock market. Stocks that either design semiconductors that are used for AI applications, or those that use them to either streamline their internal operations such as coding or offer products to customers have also made significant gains. These show the optimism in Wall Street for accelerated computing technologies, which are collectively called artificial intelligence.

In fact, the impact of AI has been so strong that not only has it upended the status quo of the most valuable firms in terms of market capitalization, but it also allowed some of the top AI companies to post triple digit percentage share price returns over the course of the past twelve months. Some of the top performing AI stocks are up by 213% over the past twelve months and have appreciated by 773% since November 2022. Back then, the stock market was whimpering in the aftermath of rapid interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, which had hit technology stocks particularly hard since they benefit from a fast growth and low rate environment.

However, AI's impact on the stock market has fueled the triple digit percentage gains in some stocks since then. At the same time, it has also meant that major indexes continue to demonstrate robust performance that is fueled by the share price performance of mega cap technology stocks.

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In 2024, the market has moved forward from investing in AI companies that can change the world with their hardware or software to evaluating whether these firms are delivering. The first quarter of the 2024 earnings season was the clearest example of this phenomenon, and it saw Wall Street take an unforgiving approach to large and small firms that presented even the slightest hint of being unable to either grow their revenues by targeting AI or control the costs of investing in the new technologies.

Within the AI industry, there are different categories of firms. Most of these, such as OpenAI, operate on the software side. This industry subsegment develops applications such as chat bots and other assistants along with expanding the use of AI to existing software such as image editing tools. AI hardware companies power these applications, and when compared to the software firms, not only do they command stable valuations, but they also see investors take comfort in the fact that the demand for their products is far more stable and predictable when compared to software demand. Recently Goldman Sachs published a bullish report on hardware stocks due to AI, which we covered in 15 Best Hardware Stocks According To Goldman. In this article we are going to approach the same theme from a different angle and there are vast differences between both rankings of hardware stocks.

Our Methodology

To make our list of the top hedge fund hardware stock picks, we ranked personal computing, semiconductor, and computer hardware by the number of hedge funds that had bought the shares in Q1 2024. Out of these, the stocks with the highest number of hedge fund investors were selected. Basically our article listed the best hardware stocks to buy according to the 900+ equity hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey. Why do we care about what hedge funds do? The reason is simple: our research has shown that we can outperform the market by imitating the top stock picks of the best hedge funds. Our quarterly newsletter’s strategy selects 14 small-cap and large-cap stocks every quarter and has returned 275% since May 2014, beating its benchmark by 150 percentage points (see more details here).

A technician in a clean room working on a semiconductor device, illuminated by the machines.

ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML)

Number of Hedge Fund Shareholders In Q1 2024: 75

ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML) is one of the most consequential computer hardware companies in the world even though it does not sell any hardware products directly to businesses or consumers. This is because growth in hardware demand means chip manufacturers need more machines to build semiconductors, which benefits ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML) since it is the only firm in the world that makes the equipment. June 2024 was a crucial month for the firm, as BofA set a new street high share price target for ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML) at €1,302. The upgrade came on the back of the bank upgrading the firm's 2025 and 2026 by 6% to 9% on the back of strong performance by ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML)'s advanced EUV chip making machines.

For their first quarter of 2024 investments, 75 hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey had bought stakes in ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML). Ken Fisher's Fisher Asset Management owned the biggest stake which was worth $3 billion.

The strong demand for its machines, the fact that it is the only company that makes them, and an expected surge in AI demand means that investors expect ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML) to outpace the broader market when it comes to growth. This is because its forward P/E ratio of 46 is higher than the market's 21. Polen Capital mentioned the firm in its Q4 2023 investor letter where it shared:

Netherlands-based ASML and Japan-based Lasertec play dominant roles within different segments of the global semiconductor industry. In both cases, shares rallied significantly in the fourth quarter of 2023, prompting our positions to grow as a percentage of the overall portfolio. We believe both companies will see demand for their products as extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography and soon high-numerical aperture lithography must be utilized to manufacture the world’s smallest chips. However, in our estimation, 2024 could deliver a year of less exciting growth for the semiconductor industry, which prompted us to trim these positions back.

Overall ASML ranks 13th on our list of the best hardware stocks to buy. You can visit 15 Best Hardware Stocks According to Hedge Funds to see the other hardware stocks that are on hedge funds’ radar. While we acknowledge the potential of ASML as an investment, our conviction lies in the belief that AI stocks hold greater promise for delivering higher returns, and doing so within a shorter timeframe. If you are looking for an AI stock that is more promising than ASML but that trades at less than 5 times its earnings, check out our report about the cheapest AI stock.

 

READ NEXT: Analyst Sees a New $25 Billion "Opportunity" for NVIDIA and Jim Cramer is Recommending These 10 Stocks in June.

 

Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.