In order to keep track of one of the patterns in the immigration field a couple of years ago, I bought 100 shares of Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation (CTSH). It is a U.S.-based outsourcing firm, best known for hiring large numbers of H-1Bs and then re-selling their services to other companies — at a nice mark-up — to do computer-related work.
My notion was that I might learn something about the H-1B program by simply looking at the CTSH stock price from time to time, and by reading its annual reports. It would be both effortless and, seemingly, perfectly innocent.
Cognizant is a big player in the outsourcing business, but neither the largest nor the worst. In the four years 2011-2014 it ranked as the ninth-largest H-1B employer in the nation by filing 8,657 labor certification attestations for H-1Bs (probably using only a fraction of them as is the industry pattern) according to the myvisajobs website. The same source, for the same years, indicates that CTSH sought 3,945 green cards, far more than the other outsourcing firms, such as Infosys, Tata, and Wipro. (Let's give the firm half a cheer for that.)
Back to the stock: On May 10, 2013, I bought 100 shares of CTSH at $68.10 for a total of a little over $6,800; it became a subset of my modest collection of stocks and bonds.
The stock price rocked along over the last year or so, generally getting higher as time passed, and then the firm decided to split its stock, usually a sign of corporate prosperity. For me it meant that I now had, without effort or cost on my part, 200 shares of CTSH.
At publication time this morning the (once-split) stock traded at just over $68, meaning that my little academic exercise had produced a 100 percent profit. I had doubled my money in a tad more than two years. My shares in the firm are now worth about $13,600.
I felt a little like I had put my money, deliberately, into a munitions/tobacco corporation that traded extensively with North Korea, or that I had bought into a successful casino. It was an uncomfortable feeling.
This little story, although anecdotal in nature, suggests that we should listen to the pleas of Silicon Valley and the outsourcing firms with a jaundiced ear. They, like Walt Disney & Co. (which hired Cognizant to bring in the H-1Bs that replaced Americans earlier this year), claim they need even more H-1Bs than the 85,000-plus we take each year, because of a "shortage" of Americans willing and able to do programming.
But Cognizant seems to be doing just fine with the current level of admissions, thank you very much.