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Beyond Apple: 8 stocks that Morgan Stanley loves

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Don’t get distracted by the drama over Greece. Lots of stocks will do well regardless of whether or not Greece defaults or suffers a messy exit from the euro.

Of course, the hard part is knowing which companies to buy.

Two corners of the stock market getting lots of recent attention from investors are tech and financials.

Last week the Nasdaq recorded new all-time highs for the first time in 15 years. Thanks to powerful rallies from key players like Apple(AAPL, Tech30) and Netflix(NFLX, Tech30), the tech-centric index is now up over 8% so far this year. That’s nearly triple the S&P 500 gains for the year and way better than the Dow.

Similarly, the S&P 500’s financial sector has soared 15% since October as Wall Street bets the Federal Reserve will soon raise interest rates. While that’s a negative for some industries, higher rates often translate to fatter bank profits.

Related: The best Nasdaq stocks

With those trends in mind, here are eight tech and financial stocks that Morgan Stanley is telling investors to buy now:

1) Salesforce.com(CRM, Tech30)

YTD performance: +26%

Current price: $74.50

Price target: $85

Salesforce.com is a fast-growing software company that is right in the middle of three of the major themes reshaping the tech world: the mobile revolution, Internet of Things and cloud computing.

The company, which is led by outspoken founder Marc Benioff, is “one of the best secularly positioned names in software,” Morgan Stanley wrote in a recent report.

No wonder Microsoft(MSFT, Tech30) is trying to buy it.

Morgan Stanley thinks Salesforce will continue growing revenue at an impressive 25% clip through fiscal 2019. That’s why Microsoft recently offered $55 billion to buy the company, according to reports.

Related: Salesforce CEO: I don’t see a startup bubble

2) SAP(SAP, Tech30)

YTD performance: +8%

Current price: $75

Price target: $85

Morgan Stanley believes SAP’s future prospects are sky-high because of its investment in the cloud. While heavy R&D costs have eaten into SAP’s margins recently, that should change as customers continue to transition to cloud computing.

SAP is the firm’s top pick in European software because of the “resilience” in its core license and maintenance business and “best in class cloud growth.”

3) Splunk(SPLK)

YTD performance: +24%

Current price: $73

Price target: $84

If you believe in the power of Big Data, you’ll love Splunk(SPLK). The company is a pure-play on the fast-growing business of processing massive amounts of data.

Even though Splunk is up 45% over the past year, Morgan Stanley believes the company’s new delivery models and sales investments give it “significant market momentum.” Just look at how Splunk’s first-quarter results revealed billings growth north of 40%.

Related: These stocks carried the Nasdaq to new records

4) Sabre(SABR)

YTD performance: +22%

Current price: $24.50

Price target: $27

Sabre is best known for founding Travelocity, the online travel brand it sold to Expedia in 2014.

But even without the Travelocity gnome by its side, Sabre’s shares have voyaged north. The travel software company’s shares are up 56% from their 2014 initial public offering price of $16. Morgan Stanley expects that to continue, especially because Sabre has cleaned up its balance sheet and is now focused on the faster-growing airline and hospitality segments of its business.

5) Blackstone(BX)

YTD performance: +25%

Current price: $42

Price target: $50

Blackstone has raised an eye-popping $50 billion this year alone — and it’s not done. Calling it a “fundraising machine,” Morgan Stanley thinks the massive private-equity firm could raise another $80 billion over the next 18 months.

That means Steve Schwarzmann’s Blackstone has lots of cash to play with — and to earn hefty fees on. All of that is good news for people who own Blackstone’s shares.

Related: Blackstone CEO only hires ‘nice’ people

6) Bank of America(BAC)

YTD performance: -2%

Current price: $17.50

Price target: $20

Bank of America’s wealth management business is a “hidden gem” that has amassed assets at a faster pace than any of its peers over the past two years, according to Morgan Stanley. Yet that hasn’t really been priced into the stock yet.

BofA also has the most to gain from a possible rate hike by the Fed. Due to its consumer-centric portfolio, BofA’s net interest income should post sizable gains when rates rise.

7) Discover Financial(DFS)

YTD performance: -9%

Current price: $59

Price target: $76

Believe it or not, Discover Financial could be a way to play the Millennial growth story.

With fun designs and automatic cash back rewards, Discover’s “It” cards are targeted at college students and other young people. Morgan Stanley believes the push could allow Discover to “capture growing share in the Millennial cohort.”

Discover is also in a prime spot to benefit when and if American consumers more broadly begin to spend more due to the improved economy and cheap gas prices.

Related: Millennials are flocking to robo advisors

8) Visa(V)

YTD performance: +6%

Current price: $69

Price target: $77

Visa is an obvious winner from the consumer shift away from cash and towards electronic payments. But there’s still a ton of room to grow.

Cash makes up 85% of purchase transactions and 55% of retail payment volume globally, according to Morgan Stanley. Plus, Visa is only just getting started in the mega market of China.

That’s why the firm has “high conviction” Visa can sustain its mid-teens earnings growth “over the foreseeable future.”

Related: Stocks to buy if you’re in your 70s

Related: The worst case if you invest in a hot stock market

CNNMoney (New York) June 22, 2015: 1:15 PM ET

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