Apple has been on an absolute tear lately. All the bearishness which preceded the newest iPhone launch set the company up for a great run. The stock is up a mind boggling 65% this year. To put that $450 bn of value appreciation in perspective, it is equivalent to adding the market caps of SalesForce, IBM, and SAP on top of what Apple already was at the end of 2018. So where does it go from here? The thing is, Apple usually continues a big upswing after an iPhone launch, so history is on its side right now.
FINSUM: iPhone sales may continue to surprise to the upside but the medium- to long-term question is whether investors will buy into Apple’s pivot into credit cards, gaming, and streaming.
A prominent fund manager has just come out with a bold and bearish prediction—that the big multi-year surge in FAANG stocks will fade. Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates says “Will these stocks produce such impressive growth that they will justify their current market cap, or are these implausible growth expectations? We don’t have a crystal ball, of course, but we would recommend not betting on the momentum continuing”. Overall, FAANGs account for $4.2 tn of market cap, a huge concentration in such a small group of stocks, and a big threat to the overall bull market. Arnott is considered the founder of smart beta and has turned Research Affiliates into a firm that manages $184 bn.
FINSUM: The basic argument here is that FAANG valuations have simply grown too large relative to other sectors and are bound to come down. But what is the catalyst?
Microsoft might have a big edge that no one is giving them credit for. That edge? It is the fact that money is pouring into ESG funds, and Microsoft is largely included in that category. Almost all of the top five ESG ETFs are overweight Microsoft, and as ESG continues to draw in more and more capital, that will become an increasingly important advantage for MSFT and other big tech names as well. In fact, many large tech companies are seen as ESG-friendly, so this is a hidden tailwind for several companies, including Google.
FINSUM: ESG ETFs are only going to grow in strength, so this is a nice little bit of momentum that will be pushing tech names higher.
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.
Peloton went public yesterday, and the results were much less than impressive. In its first day of trading, the company saw its shares fall 11%. The company priced shares at $29, but saw them fall throughout the day. The company produces exercise equipment and classes and has a cult following among its customers. Despite the fall though, in some way the IPO is a big success, at least for the founders of the company. In its last private funding round in 2018, it was valued at $4.15 bn, but opened at $7.7 bn yesterday. That is a much better showing than other recent big IPOs.
FINSUM: This company is losing almost $200m per quarter on revenue of less than $1 bn. It is fortunate it did not fall further given the current environment.