Big Tech Posted Big Year Despite Threats

A recent article in The New York Times highlights the remarkable year for giant tech stocks, despite the “trade war, bipartisan political hostility and regulatory threats.”

The S&P tech sector is reportedly up more than 40 percent, Apple stock rose by 70 percent, Alphabet gained 28 percent. Microsoft and Amazon shares rose by 49 percent and 16 percent, respectively. “And Facebook—whose chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has spent much of the past two years telling lawmakers why his company can be trusted on issues as varied as personal data and cryptocurrency—is up 53 percent.” The article reports that 20 percent of the S&P 500’s growth through November came from these five names alone.

The growth in tech is reportedly due in part to the Fed’s continued rate cuts as well as “the relief investors are feeling that the trade war’s worst outcomes haven’t come to pass.” But as recently as one year ago, the article argues, “few would have predicted such robust results,” noting the volatility in Apple’s share price between October 2018 and January of this year and price disruptions for the other FAANG stocks.

“But just when things looked bleakest,” the article notes, “stocks began to rise.” The Fed’s decision to cut rates reflected concerns about economic growth, which enticed investors to buys shares in mega-cap tach companies (which tend to be viewed as more resilient to such threats).

Referring to tech giants, the article concludes: “The sheer scale of these companies is part of what makes their rise this year so remarkable. While huge share price surges are common in the market for smaller capitalization companies, these are giants.” But it explains that the situation is born of a “unique confluence of factors, “adding that it’s unlikely these companies will “regularly clock such large gains.”