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Top 20 Tech Stocks: Least Pain, Most Gain

By Bloomberg Rankings and Jordan Robertson - 2013-08-22T16:48:16Z

Photograph by  Doable/A.collection

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Consistent Knockouts

Move over Amazon and Apple. While those consumer tech giants dominate the media spotlight, it's the far less sexy payment processor companies, such as Fiserv and Total System Services, that are deserving of attention -- if you're an investor.

Which begs the question: What's a payment processor anyway? Those are the companies that shuttle financial data, including credit card transactions, between merchants, banks and other services in real time. They're the engines that make global electronic commerce go.

Bloomberg Rankings analyzed more than 70 U.S. tech companies to determine which stocks delivered the best returns over the past three years with the lowest amount of risk. Put another way: Investing in these companies meant subjecting yourself to the least amount of pain for the biggest gain.

Here are the top 20 companies, ranked by their risk-adjusted returns - the stocks' total gains and losses divided by the degree of their price swings. A higher score means the stock had high returns and a low potential for unexpected losses. We also included how each company's total return (big number = good) and volatility (big number = not so good) compared with the group's overall averages.

See who made the list.

(For our methodology, see the last slide.)