Nasdaq goes bear as momentum plays run out of gas

FAN Editor
An electronic screen displays the Apple Inc. logo on the exterior of the Nasdaq Market Site following the close of the day's trading session in New York City
An electronic screen displays the Apple Inc. logo on the exterior of the Nasdaq Market Site following the close of the day’s trading session in New York City, New York, U.S., August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

December 20, 2018

By Chuck Mikolajczak and Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investors are finding out that it is not all puppies and unicorns when it comes to momentum plays, in a painful lesson as the Nasdaq tumbles to the edge of a bear market.

Investors reaped fat gains through the final stages of the long-running bull market on a set of stocks that many regarded as destined to go ever higher. But the tide has turned and investors can’t seem to run away fast enough.

Some are ready to call an end to Wall Street’s most popular trade – the so-called FAANG group of five favorite technology and internet stocks.

“The FAANG trade is done. It’s over. That is no longer a thing. ‘FAANG trade 2009-2018’ – put the gravestone out,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director of institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

“These growth rates and these skyrocketing valuations just eventually stop,” he added.

More than $80.7 billion poured out of U.S.-based stock funds during the 14 days through Wednesday, according to Lipper.

The FAANG components – Facebook <FB.O>, Amazon <AMZN.O>, Apple <AAPL.O>, Netflix <NFLX.O> and Google parent Alphabet <GOOGL.O> – have dropped between 19 and nearly 30 percent since the Nasdaq peaked in late August. The tech-laden index ended on Thursday down 19.5 percent from that Aug. 29 record closing high, just short of confirming a bear market, as it posted its lowest close since October 2017.

Although some Nasdaq components have posted bigger percentage declines, the FAANG members have an outsized influence on indexes because of their large market capitalizations along with their wide ownership.

(GRAPHIC: FAANGs take a bite out of Nasdaq –

The forward price-to-earnings ratios of the FAANG stocks, except for Apple, are still comfortably above the 15.3 ratio of the S&P 500, but the ratios have been shrinking as their stock prices tumble. Amazon and Netflix have seen the biggest declines in their P/E ratios.

(GRAPHIC: Amazon and Netflix Forward PE –

“The valuations of these stocks are very hard to pinpoint. For many of them, it’s about the future,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments, a family investment office in New Vernon, New Jersey. “Sometimes investors are willing to pay up for what they think will be the future and sometimes not. Seems like right now they’re not.”

As the tide turns on Wall Street, growth stocks have been ditched in favor of value names. The NYSE FANG+TM index <.NYFANG>, which is equal-weighted and includes the five core FAANG stocks along with other high-growth names, has been fading while the Russell 1000 growth-to-value ratio has climbed since mid-November.

(GRAPHIC: Russell 100 growth to value ration vs FAANG –

Still, not all investors are willing to walk away from the allure of some technology stocks, which could still do well in what many see as a decelerating economy.

“What we started to see with the FAANGs is greater differentiation and discernment on the part of investors, and I think that will continue,” said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco in New York. “This will arguably represent a buying opportunity for some of the FAANGs but not for all of them.”

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average are down 15.8 percent and 14.8 percent, respectively, from their record highs.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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