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No matter how good you may feel about stock indexes being back near all-time highs, one fact cannot be ignored: the market seems to be heavily overweight on the five largest tech stocks— Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon (the new acronym, named by Goldman is FAAMG). These stocks have been powering the market, but the whole situation feels like past peaks where their outperformance could not go on forever. Concentration in the S&P 500 is now at its highest in decades, with those five names accounting for 22% of the total capitalization, up from just 16% a year ago. According to Barron’s “Simple arithmetic limits the continued outperformance of the biggest names, the Goldman team observes, because many portfolio managers have 5% limits on holdings of any given stock. The strategists’ analysis shows that the average large-cap mutual fund already has a 5% position in Microsoft and about 4% positions in the other big four names.”.
FINSUM: It seems these stocks are reaching their institutional allocation limits, which mans retail needs to power them higher. The whole situation feels ripe for a correction.
The market has seen some very healthy (or perhaps not) gains in the last few weeks, but many are still worried about a plunge to come as the full impact of the COVID lockdown reverberates through the economy. Tech stocks have been big beneficiaries of the rally, with the big companies adding $250 bn to their market caps recently. Those gains look more sustainable than elsewhere too. Fund managers have been seeking refuge in the shares, and their business models look more defensible than most.
FINSUM: We are very bullish on big tech stocks. This whole lockdown is going to shift habits more towards ecommerce (and not just online retail, but food ordering etc), which means Google and Facebook are going to be able to collect their digital advertising tax on a bigger pot than ever.
Investors have made cash the only thing that matters in markets. The Dollar is surging and investors are fleeing assets in favor of cash. Cash is a scarce and valuable asset in this downturn, and which companies have a ton of it—tech companies. While the Silicon Valley giants will take a hit from lower consumer spending, the reality is that the shutdown of normal life is pushing things ever more online—their domain. As this crisis eventually abates, giants like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, have huge cash reserves (currently $350 bn) that will help them attract shareholder capital, and also grab market share as competition gets weeded out.
FINSUM: Tech is probably going to be in a stronger position in a year than it was six weeks ago. Their fortress balance sheets will be key.
The market is in a brutal position, everyone knows that. Peak losses hit 19% yesterday, just a hair off a bear market. The reality, though, is that some sectors are thoroughly in a bear market, including the biggest growth driver of them all—tech. The S&P info tech sector is down 20%, while Microsoft is down 20% and Apple 19%. Amazon and Facebook are both down 17%. IBM, Cisco, and older-guard tech companies are getting slaughtered down to the 25%+ range.
FINSUM: Some of these are smart to stay away from, but others could be good buying opportunities. For instance, social media companies are more exposed to consumer spending declines (and resultant advertising declines) that B2B tech companies offering cloud and other software infrastructure that is hard to cut from budgets.
The stock market is a tough game right now. Valuations are sky high and earnings are trending the wrong way, which makes picking any stock difficult. Even buying popular high-priced stocks isn’t a good plan when earnings are falling, which makes it seem as though there are few good options. With that in mind, consider buying cash cows like Facebook, Google, and Ford. With such good earnings prowess and free cash flow, these kinds of companies have the money to keep buying back shares, which should drive their valuations over time.
FINSUM: Cash cows can feed their own market pricing even in really rich markets, so this seems like a smart call.