Symantec (SYMC) is another cash-rich tech name to watch in 2014. The firm currently carries $1.72 billion in net cash on its balance sheet, or almost $2.50 in cash per share. Symantec sells security, backup and virtualization solutions to customers ranging from end-users to large corporations. Its most well-known product is the Norton antivirus suite.
SYMC has a cash cow in Norton, particularly because the software comes preloaded by OEMs on many PCs. That big installed base gives Symantec ample opportunities to upsell its premium offerings, a job that's made easier thanks to increased awareness about risks like identity theft. On the enterprise side, Symantec's size gives the firm a discernable advantage: It has teams of engineers dedicated to protecting customers against computer threats. Smaller rivals can't keep up with the onslaught of malicious code.
But Symantec has also been unfocused in recent years. While profitability remains strong, the firm has been leaving money on the table by leaving important market demands unfulfilled. Restructuring efforts that started last year have done a good job of turning the ship around so far -- and as SYMC boosts offerings like network security, it should have little trouble selling more comprehensive solutions to IT departments that are already customers.
SYMC isn't the most exciting business out there, but a low earnings multiple and ample cash make it an exciting stock.