If there were ever a small cap sector overwhelmed by their larger cousins, it would be in technology. Small cap tech stocks are so overshadowed by FAANGs and the like that one would be forgiven for not even realizing they exist. However, they do, and they may very well be a good buy at the moment. The S&P 600 Small-Cap Technology currently trades at half the valuation of the S&P 500 Technology index, way down from its historical spread. What’s more, profit estimates are healthier too. Calling small cap stocks “mini-fangs”, Leuthold Group argues that “the mini-Fangs offer a significantly higher growth profile at a substantially lower valuation”.
FINSUM: A couple notes here. Firstly, the FAANGs aren’t even really “tech” stocks anymore after the sector realignment, so the valuation comparisons are not perfect. Secondly, what is the catalyst? Leuthold argues that if the economy does a little better than expected then higher inflation will boost tech stocks. That sounds flimsy.
It is getting ugly on the left. While big tech companies have always been fairly far-left politically, a new line has just been drawn. In new transcripts just released, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, says he will “go to the mat and fight” with presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren to stop her plan to break up big tech companies. “If she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government … But look, at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight”, said Zuckerberg. Warren retorted “What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anti-competitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy”.
FINSUM: Warren is still a long way from office, but this is a glimpse of what the future would look like should the far-left win the election. Instead of probes and whistleblowers, we would have major courtroom dramas over anti-monopoly measures.
2019’s IPOs could hardly have gone worse. If you take the average performance of the top IPOs this year—Lyft, Uber, Pinterest, and Chewy—you see a loss of 30%. That is phenomenally poor considering the hype of these companies coming into their IPOs. And what’s worse, that figure doesn’t even count the worst one of all—the failed WeWork IPO. However, one company which looks like it has suffered unnecessarily and deserves a long-term bet is Slack, the office communications technology. It has a highly sticky user base and is not burning cash at anything close to the rate of the others. Users report that it is almost impossible to stop using Slack’s service once your office has converted to it.
FINSUM: Slack is essentially trying to replace internal office email. That is a long road but there has been a lot of early success. It seems like it is worth of a long term bet, especially after selling off by 43% this year.
Just before the launch of the new suite of iPhones and other Apple products last week, things were looking bleak for the company. There was remarkably little pre-launch excitement and it seemed like this was going to be a rather boring round of updates for the iPhone. However, initial sales momentum is looking strong and could bode well for the company. There are also some one-off factors that could make Apple’s stock pop. According to Evercore, “We think there is inherent upside to Sept-qtr EPS given AAPL isn’t staggering their launches but announcing all the three products simultaneously … This we think will have a positive impact to revenues and EPS in the sept-qtr, though depending on the reception of these products it may be more of a pulling in of revenues from Dec-qtr”.
FINSUM: The iPhone 11 is a little more differentiated than everyone thought, and it seems to have sparked more interest than expected. This may be a less gloomy replacement cycle than expected.
The headline looks a little bearish, granted, but it honestly may be true. The stars seem to be aligning for some big price losses in Apple’ stock. The company is set to unveil the iPhone 11 today, and it is hard to remember a time when there has been less excitement. For many reasons, including this being Apple’s last 4G phone, this model year looks to be a dud, and customer demand for it looks commensurately weak. Accordingly, the replacement cycle is likely to be poor. However, market expectations don’t seem to reflect all this, which means the stock is set up for big disappointment. Even Wall Street equity research divisions are now significantly lowering price targets for the stock.
FINSUM: The smartphone market is growing increasingly commoditized and dull and it is affecting Apple too. The company has done an admirable job diversifying, but 2020 is looking bleak for Apple.