There has been a lot of momentum flowing against tech stocks right now, and especially the FAANGs. Facebook has taken a great deal of the pain, with numerous headwinds facing shares. However, the reality is that the company has a very solid underlying business, and the recent volatility means it also has an attractive valuation. According to Deutsche Bank, “We continue to view Facebook as the best risk/reward in large cap internet given the potential for core Facebook engagement to stabilize … and given the extremely attractive current valuation”.
FINSUM: Facebook has been going through a very rough period over the last year, but the negative news cycle is going to abate, and when it does, the stock seems likely to gain.
Amidst all the gloom gripping the markets, there have been a handful of positive publications about 2019. One of them was just put out by Nomura. The bank published a list of 5 tech stocks that might surge in 2019. The call is an ambitious one given the trend of how tech shares have been going. The shares are not all FAANGs either, which makes them more interesting. With further ado, the list is: Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Broadcom, and AT&T.
FINSUM: Amazon seems like a good call to us, especially after its recent declines. The company is going to see increasing margins as it consolidates its dominant position and earns more recurring revenue. Salesforce is also an interesting business.
In what comes as an almost apocalyptic announcement for Apple investors, President Trump indicated yesterday that he may impose a tariff directly on iPhones. When asked about whether he would do so, Trump said “Maybe. Maybe. Depends on what the rate is … I mean, I can make it 10%, and people could stand that very easily”. One analyst summarized the development this way, saying “The Street will not be taking this news lightly as with the litany of bad news Apple (and its investors) have seen over the last month … this tariff threat on iPhones out of left field from Trump and Beltway will surely add to this white-knuckle period for Apple”.
FINSUM: We don’t think this will happen. If Trump tried to raise iPhone prices 10% he would likely have a popular revolt (from both sides of the aisle) on his hands. He certainly doesn’t want that.
As of today, the FAANG stocks have shed over $1 tn in market cap since their recent highs. The turmoil pulled markets down around 2% across indices, with the Dow seeing the biggest drop at 2.21%. The losses mean once again that indices have lost virtually all their gains for the year. As one CIO put it, “absolute bloodbath for technology stocks”. The selloff seems very forward looking, as investors are quite focused on what might go right and wrong in 2019. The biggest worries seem to be around trade.
FINSUM: Here is a question: why exactly is tech selling off? Apple obviously has its own problems, but those particular issues don’t seem very relevant to Facebook etc. Panic?
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook went on the record yesterday telling the market that he feels pending regulation of the tech sector is inevitable. Cook has been a recently strong critic of the data abuses exhibited in the sector. He argued that the free market is not doing its job to protect privacy and that governmental action is necessary. In cook’s own words, “Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of regulation … I’m a big believer in the free market. But we have to admit when the free market is not working. And it hasn’t worked here. I think it’s inevitable that there will be some level of regulation . . . I think Congress and the administration at some point will pass something.
FINSUM: We have to agree with Cook about the likelihood of regulation here. The financial incentives for companies are not aligned with protecting privacy, so the government would likely need to step in to make that happen.
We have covered a lot of bear market indicators this year. Every investor is understandably wondering when the next bear might bite. So how about this for an indicator—Apple just entered a bear market. Now we know that Apple’s decline seems to be quite particular to its own situation—especially the fear over iPhone sales that were cemented by the company’s announcement that it will stop reporting such figures—but what if it is a leading indicator for the whole market? Apple is not alone among big companies either—over 40% of the S&P 500 was in its own bear market at the October low in equities.
FINSUM: We do not think Apple’s bear market in its self signifies much about the underlying market. Apple’s trouble really stems from one issue—one of the most successful products in history is finally starting to see slower growth as the result of its own spectacular success. We do not think that is a bear market indicator.