US Stock Market: Investors Dumping Overpriced Tech Stocks, Rotating into Undervalued Cyclical Stocks

The major U.S. stock indexes plunged on Thursday as investors continued to shed high-flying tech shares due to mixed earnings reports and growing signs of a worsening coronavirus pandemic, which could drive the economy into a deep recession. The price action also suggests that investors continued to dump overpriced tech stocks, while rotating into undervalued cyclical stocks.

In the cash market on Thursday, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 3235.66, down 40.36 or -1.34%. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 26652.33, down 353.51 or -1.41% and the technology-based NASDAQ Composite closed at 10461.42, down 244.71 or -2.58%.

Stock Index Recap

The bellwether S&P 500 snapped a four-day winning streak with its biggest daily percentage drop in nearly four weeks. All three major U.S. stock averages lost ground. The S&P 500 Index, the Dow and the NASDAQ Composite were mostly dragged down by shared components Apple and Microsoft Corp. Heavyweight Amazon.com was also a major drag on the tech-driven NASDAQ.

The Russell 2000 and the S&P Smallcap 600, both small cap indexes, outperformed the broader market.

Earnings Update

Second-quarter reporting season is in full-stride, with 113 S&P 500 constituents having reported. Refinitiv data shows that 77% of those have beaten expectations that were extraordinarily low. Analysts now see aggregate second-quarter S&P earnings plummeting by 40.8%, year-on-year, per Refinitiv, Reuters reported.

Microsoft Corp shares fell after reporting its cloud computing business Azure reported its first-ever quarterly growth under 50%.

Tesla Inc reported a profit for the fourth straight quarter, setting the company up for inclusion in the S&P 500. But the stock slid as analysts questioned whether the electric automaker’s stock price matched its performance.

Twitter Inc advanced after reporting its highest-ever annual growth of daily users.

American Airlines Group Inc jumped after announcing it would rethink the number of flights to add in August and September. Also, it reported an adjusted loss per share of $7.82.

Southwest Airlines said Thursday it lost $915 million in the second quarter compared with $741 million in net income a year earlier and warned that travel demand will likely remain depressed until there’s a vaccine or treatment for the coronavirus.

Economic Data and Fiscal Stimulus Bill Update

The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week as the coronavirus pandemic inflicted more damage to the U.S. economy.

The Labor Department said Thursday initial jobless claims came in at 1.416 million for the week-ending July 18. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected 1.3 million.

It was the 18th straight week in which initial claims totaled more than 1 million, and it snapped a 15-week streak of declining initial claims.

The number excludes recipients of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, set to expire on July 31.

Meanwhile, Congress kept working to pass new stimulus before that deadline continued, with Senate Republicans announcing they could present their version of the bill to Democrats as early as this week.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Twitter Q2 Revenue Falls 19% But Daily Monetizable Users Jump to Record 186 Million; Target Price $43

Twitter Inc, an American microblogging and social networking service, reported that its total revenue fell 19% year-over-year to $683 million; however, the company’s monetizable daily active users rose 34% year over year to 186 million in the second quarter, sending its shares up over 6%.

The company’s total advertising revenue declined 23% to $562 million, largely due to widespread economic disruption and a significant decrease in global advertising spend as a result of the pandemic led to a 27% decline in advertising revenue in the last three weeks of March.

Total costs and expenses grew 5% year over year to $807 million, as we continue to balance targeted headcount growth with further reducing lower priority investments, resulting in an operating loss of $124 million, the company said.

Growth in Monetizable Daily Active Usage (mDAU) continued to accelerate, climbing to an all-time high of 186 million. The year-over-year surge in mDAU was primarily driven by external factors, such as continued shelter-in-place requirements for many people, and increased global conversation around the COVID-19 pandemic and other current events.

At the time of writing, Twitter Shares traded over 2% up at $39.99,  after rising over 6% during pre-market trading.

Twitter stock forecast

Twenty-six analysts forecast the average price in 12 months at $33.43 with a high forecast of $43.00 and a low forecast of $23.00. The average price target represents a -9.50% decrease from the last price of $36.94. From those 26, five analysts rated ‘Buy’, 19 rated ‘Hold’ and two rated ‘Sell’, according to Tipranks.

Morgan Stanley target price under a bull scenario is $43 and $24 under the worst-case scenario. We second Morgan Stanley on Twitter’s stock outlook. We also think it is good to buy at the current level and target at least $43 as 50-day Moving Average and 100-200-day MACD Oscillator signals a strong buying opportunity.

Analyst view

“Lack of Negative Revisions and Relative Valuation: Valuation continues to be expensive, but we think investors are likely to continue to pay a premium for TWTR given 1) continued turnaround progress and 2) platform scarcity,” said Brian Nowak equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“Execution Risk Remains Around Driving Advertiser ROI: Advertiser ROI has clearly improved on Twitter, but the company needs to improve ad targeting and measurability to compete with the larger players. To do that it will have to further personalize the content that users see and use its data more effectively, both of which remain key strategic challenges (and priorities) for management.”

Upside and Downside risks

Less than expected Covid-19 impact. Evidence of stronger user growth/traction with Twitter’s personalization efforts. Ad unit innovation/other methods to improve the advertiser offering/ROI, Morgan Stanley highlighted as upside risks to Twitter.

Lower than anticipated DAU growth or time spent on Twitter could drive downside to MS’ ad revenue estimates. A prolonged recession could cause advertisers reduce lower ROI/experimental budgets, pressuring Ad Rev, Morgan Stanley highlighted as downside risks.

Twitter Trading Higher Ahead Of July 23 Earnings

Twitter Inc. (TWTR) is inching toward the February 2020 high in the upper 30s in Monday’s U.S. session, as speculators place their bets ahead of the July 23rd Q2 2020 earnings release. The stock fell nearly 8% after missing Q1 2020 profit estimates in April, when the company disclosed that advertising revenue fell 27% in the last three weeks of March, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It bottomed out quickly and has risen nearly 30% since that time.

D.C. Critics Take Aim At Twitter

The uptick comes less than two weeks after a report the social media giant is getting ready to build a subscription service that could significantly reduce spam, bots, trolls, and other user distractions. Growing disputes with the Oval Office have dampened renewed buying interest to some extent, with the President and members of Congress complaining that Twitter and Facebook Inc. (FB) are exhibiting bias against conservative opinions.

A July job listing on the Twitter site appears to confirm the initiative, declaring “we are a new team, codenamed Gryphon. We are building a subscription platform, one that can be reused by other teams in the future. This is a first for Twitter! Gryphon is a team of web engineers who are closely collaborating with the Payments team and the Twitter.com.” The company has neither confirmed nor denied the contents of the listing.

Wall Street And Technical Outlook

The news hasn’t impacted cautionary Wall Street consensus in the last two weeks, with a ‘Hold’ recommendation computed from 5 ‘Buy’, 19 ‘Hold’, and 2 ‘Sell’ ratings. If confirmed at this week’s earning’s release, the subscription platform is likely to lift a number of Hold ratings into the Buy column, adding to rally momentum. Price targets currently range from a low of $23 to a street high $43, while the stock is now trading $4 above the median $31 target.

Technical speaking, Twitter could easily add to recent gains and lift into 2019 resistance at 45.85. That price level also marks the 2013 initial public offering’s first trade, which has acted as resistance since a 2014 breakdown. A breakout above that barrier could have a highly-positive impact on sentiment, perhaps allowing this perennial laggard to finally break out of a multiyear range and post new highs.

 

 

European Markets slip Ahead of the ECB

China Q2 GDP showed a 11.5% rebound, more than reversing the -10% fall in output seen in Q1, suggesting a nice v-shaped recovery in economic activity. The annualised number recovered to 3.2% from -6.8%.

If you had any doubts about the accuracy of China’s GDP numbers before this morning’s announcement, these figures only serve to reinforce that scepticism, as they appear to completely diverge from most of the data that has come out of China since April. In terms of the trade data, both imports and exports have been weak, while retail sales have also struggled.

Retail sales have declined in every month, by -7.5%, -2.8% and -1.8% in June, and with the Chinese consumer now making up around half of China’s economic output, I would suggest these numbers in no way reflect the real picture regarding China’s economy at this moment.

After yesterday’s strong session, markets here in Europe have taken their cues from the weakness in Asia markets and opened lower, as some of the vaccine optimism of yesterday starts to taper off.

On the results front Ladbrokes and Coral owner GVC Holdings have fallen back after reporting a decline in group net gaming revenue of 11%, in the first half of the year, largely down to the suspension of sporting events. The biggest falls in like for like revenues were in the UK and Europe with sharp drops of 86% and 90% in Q2, largely down to the wholesale closure of stores, though with the re-opening of shops in June these numbers are now starting to pick up again.

On the plus side, helping offset that weakness online gaming revenue rose, rose 19% in H1, with a 22% rise in Q2, with a strong performance in Australia. Management said they expect first half earnings to be within the range of £340m-£350m, while CEO Keith Alexander is set to retire and will be replaced by Shay Segev.

Energy provider SSE has said that coronavirus impacts on operating profits are in line with expectations, with profit expected to be in the range of £150m and £250m, though this could well change. The company has said it still expects to pay an interim dividend of 24.4p in November, in line with its 5-year plan to 2022/23.

In terms of renewable output, this came in below plan, but was still higher than the same period a year ago.

Purplebricks shares are higher after announcing the sale of its Canadian business for C$60.5m to Desjardins Group

Aviva announced that it has completed the sale of a 76% stake in Friends Provident to RL360 for £259m.

Royal Bank of Scotland also announced that from 22nd July 2020 it would henceforth be known as NatWest Group, subject to approval as it strives to draw a line under the toxicity of the RBS brand. This toxicity has dogged the bank since the 2008 bailout, along with the various scandals, around rate fixing, PPI and the GRG business, that have swirled around the bank since then. Investors will certainly be hoping so given the current share price performance, and hope that the change in name isn’t akin to putting lipstick on a pig.

Consumer credit ratings company Experian latest Q1 numbers have shown a large fall in revenue growth across all of its regions with the exception of North America, and which helped mitigate a lot of the weakness elsewhere.

The euro is slightly softer ahead of this afternoon’s ECB rate decision, which is expected to see no change in policy. At its last meeting the European Central Bank hiked its pandemic emergency purchase program by another €600bn to €1.35trn, with the time horizon pushed into the middle of June 2021. The ECB still needs to formally respond to the challenge of the German court irrespective of its insistence it is covered under the jurisdiction of the European Court.

Even where Germany is concerned optics are important, particularly if the ECB wants to be seen as a responsible arbiter of the economy across all of Europe, and the PEPP still remains vulnerable to a legal challenge, due to its difference with the previous program. The bank could also indicate if it has any plans to start buying the bonds of so called “fallen angels”. These are the bonds of companies that were investment grade, but have fallen into “junk” status as a result of the pandemic.

This morning’s UK unemployment numbers don’t tell us anything we don’t already know. The ILO measure came in at 3.9% for the three months to May, however the numbers don’t include those workers currently on furlough, and while a good proportion of these could well come back, there is still a good percentage that won’t.

On the plus side the reduction in jobless claims from 7.8% to 7.3% suggests that some workers did return to the work force in June, as shops started to reopen, however the number was tiny when compared to the claim increases seen in April and May, which saw the May numbers revised up to 566.4k.

To get a better idea of where we are in the jobs market the ONS numbers do tell us that there are now around 650k fewer people on the payroll than before the March lockdown, and that number is likely to continue to rise as we head into the end of the year and the furlough runs off.

The pound is little moved on the back of the numbers, while gilt yields have edged slightly higher.

US markets look set to take their cues from the weakness seen here in European markets, with the main attention set to be on the latest June retail sales and weekly jobless claims numbers.

Retail sales are expected to rise 5% in June, some way below the 17.7% rebound seen in the May numbers which reversed a -14.7% fall in April. The strength expected in the June number seems optimistic when set aside the employment numbers, and the 13m people still not working since March. This suggests that this number could well be highly fluid and while a lot of US workers have managed to get their furlough payments, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they will spend it.

Weekly jobless claims are still expected to be above the 1m mark, with a slight reduction expected to 1.25m from 1.31m. Continuing claims are expected to fall further to 17.5m, however these could start to edge higher in the coming weeks as US states issue orders to reclose businesses in the wake of the recent surge in coronavirus cases.

Twitter shares lost ground lost night after the bell as it became apparent that the accounts of high profit individuals like Elon Musk, Warren Buffet and former US President Barack Obama were hacked by a bitcoin scammer. All verified accounts were shut down as a result as Twitter scrambled to get on top of the problem. It’s difficult not to overstate how embarrassing this is for Twitter given that the blue tick offers certainty that the user of the account is the person they claim to be. To have them hacked is hugely embarrassing, and undermines the integrity of the whole blue tick process.

American Airlines shares are also likely to be in focus after the company announced that 25,000 jobs could be at risk, when the furlough scheme runs its course. United Airlines has already said it could cut up to 36,000 people, up to 45% of its workforce.

Netflix Q2 earnings are also due after the bell with high expectations that the company can build on its blow out Q1 subscriber numbers of 15.8m. Q2 is expected to see 7m new subscribers added.

Bank of America is also expected to post its latest Q2 numbers with the main attention on how much extra provision for bad loans the bank will add to its Q1 numbers.

Dow Jones is expected to open 160 points lower at 26,710

S&P500 is expected to open 18 points lower at 3,208

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

By Michael Hewson (Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets UK)

Twitter Shares Climb On Subscription Service Speculation

Twitter, Inc. (TWTR) climbed over 7% Wednesday on speculation that the San Francisco-based company plans to launch a subscription service. The social media giant posted a job advert for an engineers to work on a subscription platform. “We are building a subscription platform, one that can be reused by other teams in the future,” the listing stated, per The Verge. The new web engineers will work on the company’s Gryphon team, which collaborates closely with the payroll team and the Twitter.com group.

According to Bloomberg, a person familiar with the matter said the company is exploring alternative revenue sources. The social media firm currently generates about 85% of its revenue from advertising. Therefore, a subscription service would help diversify the top line as businesses rein in their marketing budgets amid ongoing uncertainty. Despite Twitter adding 14 million new users in the first quarter, its revenues rose just 3% from the March 2019 quarter, the smallest increase in over two years.

Through July 8, Twitter stock is up 10.48% year to date, with the shares surging 27% in the past three months alone. The company looks fully priced from a valuation front, given it trades 52% above its five-year forward earnings multiple.

Wall Street View

Rosenblatt Securities analyst Mark Zgutowicz outlined to clients what a Twitter subscription service may look like. For instance, he believes the firm would be more likely to launch an offering utilizing its data and analytics, rather than moving to paid tiers for Twitter usage.

Sentiment among analysts skews toward a bullish outlook, with 24 ‘Hold’ ratings and nine ‘Buy’ ratings. Only four research gurus recommend selling Twitter stock. Furthermore, look for a string of analyst upgrades if the company does indeed announce a subscription service. Wall Street has a 12-month consensus price target of $33.14 – indicating 6% downside from Wednesday’s $35.41 close.

Technical Outlook

Twitter shares have formed a loosely constructed inverse head and shoulders pattern over the past nine months. The price tested the formation’s neckline in Wednesday’s trading session on the highest volume in nearly two years. Also, a likely cross of the 50-day simple moving average (SMA) above the 200-day SMA early next week adds to the bullish technical landscape. A clean breakout above $37 could see buyers run the stock up to around $46, where price encounters resistance from the 52-week high. Alternatively, a failure to push through this closely-watched resistance level could trigger a fall to horizontal trendline support at $28.5.

TWTR Chart

U.S. Stocks Set To Open Lower As Traders Take Profits After The Recent Upside Move

With No Important Economic Reports Scheduled To Be Released Today, Traders Focus On The Spread Of The Virus

S&P 500 futures are losing ground in premarket trading as the stock market shifts its attention to virus data.

Yesterday, stocks were boosted by better-than-expected U.S. Services PMI and Composite PMI reports. There are no major economic reports scheduled to be released until Thursday when the market will digest the new data on Initial Jobless Claims and Continuing Jobless Claims.

In this environment, traders’ attention naturally turns to the developments on the coronavirus front. The situation does not look good as the pandemic shows no signs of a slowdown.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 11.6 million cases of coronavirus have been recorded since the beginning of the pandemic. In recent days, the world has recorded more than 200,000 new cases per day which is the all-time high.

U.S. May Ban Social Media Apps From China

The U.S. is set for another round of tensions with China as it may ban the country’s social media apps as they may share information with the Chinese government.

Meanwhile, companies like Facebook and Twitter have announced that they would not take requests for user data from Hong Kong’s government due to the new security law.

China will likely try to retaliate against any restrictive measures so U.S. – China relations will continue to follow their downside trend.

European Commission Revises Its Economic Forecast To The Downside

While stocks trade as if there is no pandemic at all, the situation is challenging for the real economy. According to the new forecast from the European Commission, Euro Area’s economy will decline by 8.7% in 2020 and rebound by 6.1% in 2021.

The previous forecast called for a decline of 7.7% in 2020 and growth of 6.3% in 2021. The reopening of the economy is not proceeding as fast as previously expected as governments have to balance their economic priorities with virus containment measures.

The slowdown in the EU will directly impact U.S. multinationals. At the same time, it also raises questions regarding the recent optimism about the rebound of the U.S. economy which currently faces a surge in the number of virus cases.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Facebook’s Advertiser Diversification to Cushion Boycott Impact; Buy on Weakness: Morgan Stanley

Aiming to pressurize Facebook, an American social media conglomerate corporation based in California, to crack down on fake news and hate speech has prompted several corporate advertisers to pull out their advertising from the biggest social media site platform.

Over the past week, several companies, including Unilever, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Honda and others, have signed for an advertising boycott of social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

Ben & Jerry’s, Verizon Wireless and Eddie Bauer have also joined the race to pause advertisements for July. Following this, Facebook’s shares plunged over 10% from high of $245.18 on June 23.

Morgan Stanley: “We’d buy on weakness”

“Key points that could minimize any material Facebook impact: In our view, it is important to remember that 1) Facebook’s advertising dollar base is highly diversified, as on its 1Q 2019 earnings call, the company said that ‘our top 100 advertisers represented less than 20% of our total ad revenue. “Facebook’s advertiser base likely has grown by more than 10% since then, meaning their ad base could be even more diversified. 2) Facebook has an incredibly strong direct-response transaction-driven ad product most recently seen in 1Q results that DR advertisers will step in and bid with if/when pricing drops. The ability for DR advertisers to spend more is likely very strong right now given the current macro strength in e-commerce,” said Brian Nowak, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley in a note to clients.

“While the current boycott cancellations don’t look troubling, uncertainty around the breadth and duration of this boycott could create tactical pressure on Facebook. We intend to lean on the above math as our proxy as we try to gauge the impact on Facebook’s ad business…and are buyers on weakness when near-term sentiment on this scaling platform becomes overly bearish and valuation gets depressed.”

Brian Nowak, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley further wrote that “we are positive on Facebook’s monetization roll-out of Instagram as well as Facebook’s ability to continue to innovate and improve its monetization. Combined with high and growing engagement we see monetization upside going forward. We see the monetization of Instagram adding $4 billion of incremental ad revenue in 2021.”

“Investing from a position of strength to drive faster long-term growth: We are modelling 11% GAAP opex (excluding one-time items) growth in 2020, implying an incremental $5 billion in opex. Our base case model implies opex per employee moderates in ’20 while Facebook hiring remains roughly flat on an absolute basis. We believe Facebook will grow EPS at a 14% CAGR (2019-2022),” Morgan Stanley’s Nowak added.

Facebook target price

Morgan Stanley target price is $230 with a high of $280 under a bull scenario and $160 under the worst-case scenario. Thirty-two analysts forecast the average price in 12 months at $248.21 with a high of $300.00 and a low of $185.00. The average price target represents a 12.50% increase from Monday’s price of $220.64, according to Tipranks. From those 32, 29 analysts rated ‘Buy’, three rated ‘Hold’ and none rated ‘Sell’.

Unilever Latest Advertiser to Jump Ship on Facebook, Twitter Amid ‘Polarized Atmosphere’ in US

The two major social media stocks – Facebook and Twitter – are both under pressure on Friday, falling 9% and 7% respectively, as more advertisers joined the list of more than 90 marketers pausing their ad spending during the month of July for social media giant Facebook. Twitter shares fell in sympathy with Facebook as investors anticipate the other shoe to drop on its platform as well.

At 17:02 GMT, Facebook is trading $216.93, down $18.75 or -7.96% and Twitter is at $29.12, down $2.25 or -7.17%.

Growing List of Major Advertisers Shunning Facebook

CNBC wrote, “In the week since a group of organizations called on Facebook advertisers to pause their ad spending during the month of July, more than 90 marketers including Verizon, Patagonia, REI, Lending Club, The North Face, Ben & Jerry’s have announced their intention to join, according to a running list from Sleeping Giants. The group of organizations includes the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color of Change, Free Press and Common Sense.”

“The organizations said they’re asking Facebook to more stringently police hate speech and disinformation by taking a number of actions, including creating a ‘separate moderation pipeline’ for users who say they’ve been targeted because of their race or religion, or to let advertisers see how frequently their ads appeared near to content that was later removed for misinformation or hate, and allow them refunds for those advertisements.”

Daily Facebook

No Response from Facebook Yet

Last year, Facebook brought in $69.7 billion in ad revenue globally through its millions of advertisers. The platform said earlier this year it has more than 8 million advertisers, CNBC said.

In a recent memo to advertisers obtained by CNBC, the company’s VP of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson said “boycotting in general is not the way for us to make progress together.”

“I also really hope by now you know that we do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure,” she said in the memo. “We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests.”

Unilever Pauses Facebook and Twitter Advertising for Rest of 2020

Unilever on Friday said it would be pausing brand advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. “through at least the end of the year.”

“Given our Responsibility Framework and the polarized atmosphere in the U.S., we have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S.,” the company said in an emailed statement it attributed to Luis Di Como, the company’s EVP of Global Media.

“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary.”

Daily Twitter

Twitter’s Response

Twitter’s VP of Global Client Solutions Sarah Personette responded to the move from Unilever in a statement.

“We have developed policies and platform capabilities designed to protect and serve the public conversation, and as always, are committed to amplifying voices from underrepresented communities and marginalized groups,” she said. “We are respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Twitter Gains Momentum Amid The Political Unrest

In one of the most controversial moves by a social media platform ever, Twitter Inc. (TWTR) decided to classify a Tweet from the American President as “glorification of violence” on May 29. As a retaliation for this action, President Trump signed an executive order targeting social media companies in abid to defend free speech on these platforms.

Many legal experts have warned that this order is on shaky legal ground and might fail to hold inside a courtroom and tech giants have already filed a lawsuit challenging this order. Twitter shares initially dropped 10% because of this uncertainty but recovered in the last week as investors shifted their focus from short-term troubles to long-term gains resulting from this development.

A Blessing In Disguise

The political unrest in America and the clash between the government has brought Twitter to the spotlight once again. According to data from Apptopia, the Twitter mobile application was downloaded 677,000 times on June 3, which is the highest-ever number reported by the company since it was founded in 2006. On the same day, Twitter hit a new record of daily active users in the U.S. with 40 million Americans using the platform.

For the best part of the last decade, other social media platforms such as Facebook Inc. (FB) and Snap Inc. (SNAP) have dominated the industry, leading to meager returns from Twitter. For instance, Facebook shares have gained a staggering 37% this year while Twitter stock is down 3% in the same period. The current situation, however, might turn the tables in favor of Twitter as the platform is once again rising in popularity which is evident from app download data.

A Turnaround Is On The Cards

Twitter has never been able to monetize its userbase as Facebook does. For instance, Twitter brings in $20 per user whereas Facebook earns $30 per user, and the latter has over a billion daily active users whereas Twitter still averages around 170 million users per day. This suggests that there’s leeway for growth if the company adopts the right strategy.

In a promising move, activist investors Elliott Management and Silver Lake Capital reached a deal with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to make radical changes that could lead to a 20% growth in daily users. Commenting on the recent changes to its business model, Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour told Barron’s, “We’ve really cranked up the engine. We’re taking bigger swings and moving way faster.”

With daily active users booming and the company focusing more on monetizing its users, Twitter could deliver attractive returns in the next 12 months on par with other social media giants.

Stock Pick Update: May 20 – May 26, 2020

The broad stock market has extended its short-term consolidation in the last five trading days (May 13 – May 19). Almost two months ago on March 23, the S&P 500 index sold off to new medium-term low of 2,191.86. It was a stunning 35.4% below February 19 record high of 3,393.52. The corona virus and economic slowdown fears have erased more than a third of the broad stock market value. Then we saw huge come-back rally, as the index got back above 2,900 mark. Recently the S&P 500 index has been trying to break above the resistance level of around 2,950.

The S&P 500 index has gained 1.99% since last Wednesday’s open. In the same period of time our five long and five short stock picks have lost 0.17%. So stock picks were relatively weaker than the broad stock market. However, our long stock picks have gained 2.14% and they have outperformed the index. Short stock picks have resulted in a loss of 2.48%. The overall results remain relatively better than the S&P 500 index over last months.

If stocks were in a prolonged downtrend, being able to profit anyway, would be extremely valuable. Of course, it’s not the point of our Stock Pick Updates to forecast where the general stock market is likely to move, but rather to provide you with stocks that are likely to generate profits regardless of what the S&P does.

This means that our overall stock-picking performance can be summarized on the chart below. The assumptions are: starting with $100k, no leverage used. The data before Dec 24, 2019 comes from our internal tests and data after that can be verified by individual Stock Pick Updates posted on our website.

Below we include statistics and the details of our three recent updates:

  • May 19, 2020
    Long Picks (May 13 open – May 19 close % change): SLB (+1.42%), CSCO (+2.74%), NWSA (+6.12%), CCI (-1.04%), CB (+1.46%)
    Short Picks (May 13 open – May 19 close % change): AVB (+2.72%), C (+5.79%), AEP (-0.45%), COP (+4.02%), AAPL (+0.32%)

    Average long result: +2.14%, average short result: -2.48%
    Total profit (average): -0.17%

  • May 12, 2020
    Long Picks (May 6 open – May 12 close % change): SLB (+5.17%), WYNN (-2.24%), MLM (-7.68%), MKC (+4.97%), GE (-3.22%)
    Short Picks (May 6 open – May 12 close % change): SYY (-3.33%), CAT (-4.81%), XEL (-7.15%), COG (-6.68%), AMZN (+1.18%)

    Average long result: -0.60%, average short result: +4.16%
    Total profit (average): +1.78%

  • May 5, 2020
    Long Picks (Apr 29 open – May 5 close % change): MPC (+4.50%), GILD (-5.75%), LIN (-3.19%), GE (-7.19%), HIG (-13.29%)
    Short Picks (Apr 29 open – May 5 close % change): UPS (-3.53%), SPGI (-2.59%), SO (-6.06%), COG (-1.16%), AMGN (-1.06%)

    Average long result: -4.98%, average short result: +2.88%
    Total profit (average): -1.05%

Let’s check which stocks could magnify S&P’s gains in case it rallies, and which stocks would be likely to decline the most if S&P plunges. Here are our stock picks for the Wednesday, May 20 – Tuesday, May 26 period.

We will assume the following: the stocks will be bought or sold short on the opening of today’s trading session (May 20) and sold or bought back on the closing of the next Tuesday’s trading session (May 26).

We will provide stock trading ideas based on our in-depth technical and fundamental analysis, but since the main point of this publication is to provide the top 5 long and top 5 short candidates (our opinion, not an investment advice) for this week, we will focus solely on the technicals. The latter are simply more useful in case of short-term trades.

First, we will take a look at the recent performance by sector. It may show us which sector is likely to perform best in the near future and which sector is likely to lag. Then, we will select our buy and sell stock picks.

There are eleven stock market sectors: Energy, Materials, Industrials, Consumer Discretionary, Consumer Staples, Health Care, Financials, Technology, Communications Services, Utilities and Real Estate. They are further divided into industries, but we will just stick with these main sectors of the stock market.

We will analyze them and their relative performance by looking at the Select Sector SPDR ETF’s.

Based on the above, we decided to choose our stock picks for the next week. We will choose our top 3 long and top 3 short candidates using trend-following approach, and top 2 long and top 2 short candidates using contrarian approach:

Trend-following approach:

  • buys: 1 x Energy, 1 x Communication Services, 1 x Technology
  • sells: 1 x Real Estate, 1 x Utilities, 1 x Consumer Staples

Contrarian approach (betting against the recent trend):

  • buys: 1 x Real Estate, 1 x Utilities
  • sells: 1 x Energy, 1 x Communication Services

Trend-following approach

Top 3 Buy Candidates

SLB Schlumberger Ltd. – Energy

  • Stock remains within a consolidation following April’s rebound
  • The resistance level of $19
  • Initial upside profit target level of $22-24

TWTR Twitter, Inc. – Communication Services

  • Potential uptrend resuming following breaking above bull flag pattern
  • Upside profit target levels of $31 and $35
  • The support level remains at $27

CSCO Cisco Systems, Inc. – Technology

  • The market broke above its recent consolidation (bull flag pattern)
  • The resistance levels of $45.50 and $48.00 (upside profit target levels)
  • The support level of $43.00

Summing up, the above trend-following long stock picks are just a part of our whole Stock Pick Update. The Energy, Communication Services and Technology sectors were relatively the strongest in the last 30 days. And they all have gained much more than the S&P 500 index in the same period. So that part of our ten long and short stock picks is meant to outperform in the coming days if the broad stock market acts similarly as it did before.

We hope you enjoyed reading the above free analysis, and we encourage you to read today’s Stock Pick Update – this analysis’ full version. There, we include the stock market sector analysis for the past month and remaining long and short stock picks for the next week. There’s no risk in subscribing right away, because there’s a 30-day money back guarantee for all our products, so we encourage you to subscribe today.

Thank you.

Paul Rejczak
Stock Trading Strategist
Sunshine Profits – Effective Investments through Diligence and Care

* * * * *

Disclaimer

All essays, research and information found above represent analyses and opinions of Paul Rejczak and Sunshine Profits’ associates only. As such, it may prove wrong and be a subject to change without notice. Opinions and analyses were based on data available to authors of respective essays at the time of writing. Although the information provided above is based on careful research and sources that are believed to be accurate, Paul Rejczak and his associates do not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the data or information reported. The opinions published above are neither an offer nor a recommendation to purchase or sell any securities. Mr. Rejczak is not a Registered Securities Advisor. By reading Paul Rejczak’s reports you fully agree that he will not be held responsible or liable for any decisions you make regarding any information provided in these reports. Investing, trading and speculation in any financial markets may involve high risk of loss. Paul Rejczak, Sunshine Profits’ employees and affiliates as well as members of their families may have a short or long position in any securities, including those mentioned in any of the reports or essays, and may make additional purchases and/or sales of those securities without notice.

 

Bringing the Trust Back: How Blockchain Enhances Social Networks?

Millions of people stay close to each other with the help of social networks, even if they’re hundreds of miles away. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms form an integral part of users’ lives. Facebook only processes over 136,000 photos and 510,000 comments every minute! But does our personal data actually remain personal?

Not long ago the world was struck with Facebook data leak scandal. Over 87 million users learnеd that their personal data was shared with Cambridge Analytica. It included public profiles, page likes, birthdays and current cities. The biggest hypocrisy was that Facebook discovered that the information had been harvested in late 2015 but failed to alert users at that time. As a result, the only government of the United Kingdom fined the platform with £500,000 for not protecting user data. Still, it is very unlikely that this “punishment” can satisfy Facebook case victims – their stolen information can never retreat.

What the vast majority of people don’t understand is that hackers got access not only to Facebook but to Tinder, Spotify and Instagram accounts too. Therefore, more information could have been stolen, including your private photos. And these are not just words. Suffice to remember the summer of 2014, when a collection of 500 private pictures of numerous celebrities, mostly female and considered to be as an 18+ content, were posted on various social networks, such as 4chain and Reddit.

It’s true that during registration users agree to share some of their personal data with the platform. But not always people actually are aware of what this information used for. As the saying goes, “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” All social networks let us use their platform freely in exchange for something more valuable – understanding of our behaviors, habits, connections, locations, interests, and contact information.

While social networks are good at collecting data, they can be not as good at keeping it secure. Simply put our private information could fall into the hands not only of another company but also of hackers and all sort of “malicious actors”. In particular, social media incidents were responsible for over 56% of the 4.5 billion data records leaks worldwide in the first half of 2018, according to the security firm Gemalto. In fact, around 291 leaks happen every second.

Nothing of mentioned above would matter if public’s engagement in social media hasn’t been so skyrocketing. In 2018, there are over 4 billion people worldwide that use the Internet. And more than 3 billion of them are in social media. That’s almost half of the world’s population!

Thankfully, there is one particular trick left in the bag – blockchain. The same technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin and other coins. Basically, this technology is a synonym for security and immutability. Thanks to its cryptographic nature, the chance of data-stealing equals almost zero. So, blockchain becomes the long-awaited cure to issues affecting the current breed of social networks.

Major platforms already bet on the distributed ledger system. Back in May 2018, Facebook formed a blockchain team to explore how to best leverage the technology across the social network. Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, is also thinking over employing blockchain for its platform.

The decentralized technology can not only bring security to social networks but can also change the whole concept of media platforms. And some companies are already working on it. As a perfect example, Steemit must be mentioned. They became pioneers in building the first social network on the blockchain. It allows content creators to make money by contributing valuable and engaging content to the platform.

Another company – Japanese Nagezeni – also develops the blockchain solution for social interaction. They want to empower users to support their favorite authors or bloggers by giving small donations in cryptocurrency. Bloggers, in turn, will be able to use the platform to collect funds through crowdfunding mechanism. Finally, Nagezeni makes it possible to place ads on internet media in the project’s NZE currency.

To implement all the plans, the company uses the sidechain, which combines non-standard features in one – Bitcoin’s security and PayPal’s scalability. It will speed up transactions in NZE up to 300 ones per second and allow to confirm most payments in less than 20 seconds. Thus, Nagezeni users will be able to tip content creators easily and fast, as if they are giving a usual like.

Though people are sharing more and more information online, they want to be sure that what should be private stays private. With all the scandals and data leaks, users are losing their trust in media platforms. Is it a way to restore it? Blockchain may be right the answer.

To learn more about Nagezeni and its innovative ideas, visit its website and follow the news on Telegram, Twitter and Facebook.

Global Market Slide, Tech Wreck Drives Losses, US Market De-FAANGed

Asian Down On Global Woe

Asian markets closed down across the board on Tuesday as mounting global woe rocked the market. The Chinese ShangHai and Hong Kong Heng Seng led with losses greater than -2.0% while others in the region fared better. The Japanese Nikkei was down a more modest -1.10% despite growing weakness in the automotive sector while in Korea and Australia losses were well below -01.0%.

The Nissan board has issued a statement saying that Carlos Ghosn and another board member had been under-reporting their compensation “over many years”. The misrepresentation is material to their disclosure requirements and a violation of Japanese financial regulations, a breach that resulted in Ghosn’s arrest on Tuesday. With his arrest comes the natural question, because he’s the CEO of multiple car companies several countries have done the same thing elsewhere?

Europe Down As Tech-Wreck, Banks Lead Losses

The European market was broadly lower at mid-day on Tuesday on weakness in tech and banks. The banks were down on a combination of factors that include Brexit uncertainty, the Italian budget stand-off, slowing domestic growth, slowing global growth, and trade concerns. The sector sank despite positive results from UK lemder Cybg. The UK lender says pretax profits rose 13% in the last year, it also says management has “planned for a period of uncertainty” and sent shares down more than -10%.

Shares of Renault fell another -2.5% in early trading as the Carlos Ghosn scandal ripples through the market. Ghosn, also CEO of Renault, is likely to be ousted from his position at Renault as a result of his arrest. He may also have under-reported his compensation in France.

Tech-Wreck De-FAANG’s US Market

Tech led the global decline and was felt nowhere more strongly than among the FAANG stocks. Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google all shed at least -2.0% on Monday, most shedding more than -4.0%, as fear of slowing growth hit the sector.

A report that Apple had cut orders for one of its iPhone X models sent a shockwave through the market that affected the entire supply chain and all technology related to mobile. Shares of FAANG continued their slide on Tuesday adding at least -1.0% to individual losses and plunging the group deeper into bear-market territory.

Downward pressure in retail also had the market moving lower on Tuesday morning. Misses from Target and Kohl’s had shares of those stocks down more than -10% despite positive reports from both companies.

The tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite led the major indices lower in pre-market futures trading. The index was looking at a loss of -1.58% followed by -1.10% declines for the both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average. Trading volume is going to be light on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday because of the Thursday holiday. Traders should beware of volatility, exaggerated market movements, and whipsaws.

New Channel For Brands Promotion That Will Blast Advertising Market

Imagine a perfect world where the advertisement of your brand is shown only to target audience any time they use their phones. The targeting is based on location, gender, education and other characteristics which give advertisers and brands only real views for real possible clients. The advertising market launches more and more application that is developed in accordance with brands’ requirements and provide a possibility to set detailed configurations and make the promotion process simpler. One of the companies has recently launched a mobile application which is claimed to become the next revolution in the advertising market and we are about to tell you why it worths your attention.

According to Statista, there will be 2,5 billion people using smartphones by 2019. Mobile users unlock their phones from 80 to 110 times per day. At the same time, 69% of consumers from 18 to 39 years old use mobile phones for a research of products before purchasing them. Mobile devices automatically become a new channel for brands promotion as people simply cannot imagine their lives without their phones. Applications for smartphones will definitely change the advertising market.

What is the new technology?

Emarketer research states that $101 billion was spent on mobile ads globally last year which is 5 times more than in 2012. Spendings in this sector will only increase.

EasyVisual is an advertising network that before the launch of the app has already had a 3,5 million audience in 190 countries including South Korea, China, Vietnam, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Ukraine, Turkey, Czech Republic, Israel. The company has made a right choice and decided to use as much potential of smartphones as possible in order to make brands promotion successful and cost-effective.

Banners App and its benefits

Advertising of cryptocurrencies hasn’t become simpler with the development of the blockchain technology and its fast increasing popularity. Facebook was the first social network to forbid crypto ads at the time of the Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple bubble. Web giants like Google, Bing, and Twitter have followed by as well. It’s getting more complicated to promote crypto projects and coins, so the advertising market comes up with new ideas and approaches in order to give cryptocurrencies a chance to get audience awareness on the same level as other products and services.

One of the ways to solve the existing problem for crypto advertisement is to launch a mobile application. For example, Banners App is based on Android operating system and doesn’t have any ad restrictions for crypto. The app can be downloaded from Google Play and is activated any time a user unlocks a phone. Users indicated their personal information in the app: location, gender, marital status, education, languages, interests, professional achievements, and wellness. The targeting is based on the following characteristics. Besides, users can set the number of times they want to see the ad.

By using Banners App brands and advertisers get:

  • A mobile application based on the leading and more profitable operating system in the market;
  • Statistical data on advertising campaign: number of real views and a conversion rate of the advertisement;
  • Payment for real views of the ad that is shown only to the target audience.

Thanks to EasyVisual there will be no more useless advertisement and money spent on the promotion will prove its worth.

United States’ SEC Wants to Monitor Social Media Platforms

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is exploring options for a new software to detect and track market moving posts on social media platforms. The platforms would include Twitter, Facebook as well as others, and the purpose would be for the posts to be reported directly to the SEC.

Companies around the world use social media on a daily basis as an integral part of their marketing and communications strategies. However, the US regulator has only recently started to look into social media’s influence over companies’ stock prices, in light of the growing number of cases of whereby some companies have apparently misused social media posts to manipulate stock prices.

Most recently, Elon Musk, the “erratic” (as many call him) CEO of the electric car maker Tesla tweeted he wants to take the company private at 420 USD and that he had secured funding for this move to happen. Tesla’s shares rose by around 12% afterward from 340 USD to 380 USD. At the time of writing, the stock was trading at 279 USD.

Elon Musk came under a lot of scrutiny after this tweet and investors wanted him to reveal the organization he implied would fund the company, as it would have been the largest delisting in the US history. Shortly after, Elon Musk said (this time in a blog post) that Tesla would remain a public company. The stock price dropped back below 300 USD in a couple of days.

Moreover, the SEC is now investigating Elon Musk as to whether his information was misleading at the time of his first tweet regarding his claim of funding having been “secured”. If found guilty of stock fraud, he could lose billions in lawsuits or potentially end up in prison.

In light of such actions, the SEC has decided to try to “regulate” social media posts of influential business leaders and to determine, whether they are market moving. The US regulator is willing to pay 27.5 million USD for the desired software, but the SEC wants a finished product (ready to use) as they don’t have time for developing it from a scratch.

The SEC made a brief description of what they are looking for: “a complete, web-based tool to scrape the major sites for keywords on relevant topics. When a keyword pops, the tool should send an email alerting the appropriate SEC staff.”

It seems that manipulating stock prices will be a bit tougher in the near future.

This article was written by Peter Bukov, one of TeleTrade’s leading analysts. 

Is a Strong Dollar Good for the US Economy?

China, Iran Russia, and Turkey are under Pressure

The threat of sanctions and tariffs from the United States puts pressure on a large part of developing markets. Chinese bourses are under pressure because of the threat of tariff wars. Iran is under threat of imposing sanctions because of the Iranian nuclear programme. Russia is vulnerable because of the suspicion of its interference in the elections. Turkey is under pressure because of the reluctance to release the American pastor. All these threats have already had an extremely negative impact on the business sentiments in the emerging markets, causing capital outflows and national currencies weakening.


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Strong Dollar: Good or Bad?

The big question is whether such strengthening of the US dollar is favorable for the American economy or not. For the long-term distance, the answer is simple – «No».  This is exactly what the President and the U.S. Treasury Secretary have said in the past. Nevertheless, in the short–term the dollar’s growth could help to reduce the US inflationary pressure, avoiding even more abrupt tightening from the Fed. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that the American budget has a huge deficit, and the States actively attract market capital to finance it.

As one of many consequences, the USD receives additional demand due to the flow into the liquid U.S. Treasuries (UST), which is abundantly offered to the markets in order to finance the enormous fiscal deficit.

Coincidence or not, but the effect of the U.S. president’s active economic pressure on other countries is counterbalanced by the effect of the overgrown debt securities offer. As a result of the increased demand for safe-heavens, the yield for 10-years treasuries bond remains close to 3%, reluctant to grow higher, as it was widely expected earlier and despite the Fed Funds rate hikes and acceleration in inflation.

At the same time, strong macroeconomic data of the U.S. economy and company reporting support the positive dynamics of American stock indices. On Monday, S&P 500 added 0.3%, and the index futures add another 0.1% on Tuesday, reducing the gap from January’s historical highs to only 0.9%.

Among individual shares, it is worth noting the growth of Facebook shares. In the recent days, the stocks had stabilized after a collapse and now attract investors who are betting on the rebound after an excessive decline. Taking an important line of 200-day moving average and exiting the oversold zone for RSI also support the bullish sentiment among those investors who look at technical indicators. Twitter shares have not turned to rally yet, but technical indicators demonstrate this possibility.

This article was written by FxPro

IT Selloff Continues: Twitter and Facebook Still Did Not Find Support, Global Stocks Steady

Sale off of technological stocks continued yesterday. Twitter and Facebook, the biggest movers last week, could not find support yesterday; moreover, they fell by 7.7% and 2%, respectively. Both shares are in the oversold area, according to the RSI index that fell below the signal level 30 on the daily charts. However, the technical analysis points out that the proper moment to buy will only be when the current sales impulse will lose power and the RSI will return above 30.

Current sale of IT shares should be considered as a correction as this sector was the key driver of the market in the previous months. Twitter lost 27% in the latest three trading sessions, but this huge move returned the company’s capitalization to the levels of May.

Despite the tech sale on Monday, global stocks are trading steady on Tuesday morning with the European and Asian markets slightly higher.


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The currency market

In the currency market, the dollar was under some pressure following the data that indicated a weakening of the inflation in the Eurozone. The slowdown in prices in Germany and Spain can be seen as a harbinger of the inflation easing in the entire euro region, the preliminary statistics on which will be published later today. Low inflation increases the real value of the investment in the euro and makes it a bit more attractive to invest in this currency at a time when the ECB intends not to raise the rate for at least a year. Against this backdrop, the single currency returned to the area above 1.17 and returned back almost completely its fall after the ECB press conference last week.

The currency market on Tuesday morning managed to avoid serious fluctuations. The Bank of Japan made only minor tweaks in its monetary policy, promising more flexibility in carrying out QQE and promising to keep the rates “very low” for some time, as the inflation is still far from the target 2%. The markets had feared that the Bank of Japan would start curtailing incentives aggressively, along with the ECB, which is reducing its asset purchases to the balance and with the Fed, which raises rates and reduces its balance. The simultaneous winding down of incentives from the “big troika” would be an even more serious test for markets that are already concerned about the uncertainty surrounding international trade policy.

This article was written by FxPro

Breaking News: China Manufacturing PMI Falls Short of Expectations for July

The major U.S. stock indexes tumbled at the start of the week with the selling led by a steep drop in the technology sector for a third consecutive session.

In the cash market, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 2802.60, down 16.22 or -0.58%. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 25306.83, down 144.23 or -0.57% and the tech-driven NASDAQ Composite closed at 7630.20, down 107.13, down 1.38%.

Facing pressure in the NASDAQ Composite Index were shares of Facebook and Netflix, which lost 2.2 percent and 5.7 percent respectively. FANG stocks Amazon and Google-parent Alphabet fell 2.1 percent and 1.8 percent respectively.

The FANG stocks weren’t the biggest losers on Monday, however. Shares of Twitter dropped another 8 percent. It was followed by a 7.7 percent loss in Take-Two Interactive, a 5.7 percent decline in Electronic Arts and a 5.5 percent pullback in Akamai Technologies.

Earnings News

Caterpillar said in its second-quarter earnings report that recently imposed tariffs will shave off between $100 million and $200 million from its bottom line in the second half. The company also reported better-than-expected earnings and raised its full-year outlook, however.

Economic News

Reports were scare on Monday with U.S. Pending Home Sales coming in 0.9% higher versus an estimate of 0.4%. It also reversed last month’s 0.5% decline.

Rattling investors, however, was a report by Reuters that Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico and South Korea will meet next week to discuss a response to threats made by President Donald Trump about slapping tariffs on U.S. auto imports.

Tuesday’s Early Reports

In breaking news, China reported on Tuesday that factory activity was slightly lower than expected in July, with the official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) coming in at 51.2

The Chinese manufacturing PMI had been forecast to fall to 51.3 in July from 51.5 in June, according to a poll of economists by Reuters.

China’s official services PMI also fell in July. The report showed a reading of 54.0 from 55.0 in June.

In Japan, the unemployment rate rose to 2.4%, versus a 2.3% estimate and 2.2% previous read. Preliminary Industrial Production fell by 2.1%, worse than the -0.3% forecast and -0.2% previous read.

In New Zealand, Building Consents fell 7.6% versus a 6.9% previous report. ANZ Business Confidence was -44.9. Last month the report was -39.0.

Australian Building Approvals jumped 6.4% versus a 1.1% estimate. However, the previous month was revised lower by 2.5%. Private Sector Credit hit the estimate of 0.3%, slightly better than last month’s 0.2%.

Social-Media Giant Facebook No Concern for True Technology Investors

Last Thursday’s “gap and go” sell-off in Facebook was ugly for long investors but it should only serve as a reminder of what could happen to any stock at any time, not just this social media giant. Furthermore, it should not be used as an indicator “of things to come” for the FANG stocks or the entire technology sector.

Sure, it could happen in other technology stocks because investors are loaded up on the long side in these stocks because for years, they have been the best game in town. So far this year, the tech-based NASDAQ Composite is up 12.1%, while the benchmark S&P 500 is up 5.4% and the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average has posted a 3.0% gain.

Every time a revenue and earnings report is posted, investors run the risk that a company will miss on both sides, triggering a mass exit from the stock on profit-taking. Yes, profit-taking, not fresh short selling. That’s why savvy investors diversify their holdings.

Investors in a bull market are constantly looking for value. Some see higher prices in the future and decide to buy now in anticipation of higher prices. Some play for value and prefer to buy dips. With Facebook, investors perceived the stock as overvalued based on future growth projections so they took a little off the top.

The size of the sell-off was obviously a headlines grabber, but you have to look at who was behind the selling. It wasn’t mom and pop investors, nor was it all mutual fund sellers. They may have booked profits when the bad news came out, but the majority of the selling took place during the over hours market and it was primarily dominated by the over-weighted hedge funds.

According to a recent survey by Goldman Sachs, more than 10 percent of hedge funds counted Facebook as a top 10 holding.

The hedge funds were in massive long positions based on first-quarter regulatory filings. This was in contrast to the mutual funds, which have reportedly been trimming their positions in so-called FANG stocks since late 2016, the Goldman report said on Thursday.

In other words, the mutual funds were hit less-hard from the Facebook debacle than the highly speculative hedge funds.


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Contagion Effect?

Firstly, let’s look at the weightings of the FAANG stocks – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google (Alphabet) – in the NASDAQ Composite Index. Facebook is weighted 4.983 percent, Amazon 10.475 percent, Apple is 11.151 percent, Netflix is 1.834 percent and Google (Alphabet) is 5.134 percent.

It may be top-weighted in Amazon and Apple, but the others seem to be fine. A sell-off equal to Facebook’s move will, therefore, have a greater effect on the index then Thursday’s move in the social media giant. So the 1.06% loss in the index last week was relatively small when compared to, for example, the steep break in February.

Secondly, analysts are now saying that Amazon is beginning to decouple from the FAANGs. Remember that Amazon released earnings the day after Facebook. Although they were mixed, the stock still rose so there goes the contagion argument.

It looks like the contagion argument may be valid for Facebook and Twitter since both sold off sharply last week and they are both social media companies. However, given the history of the social media sub-sector (see AOL and Myspace), this can be a volatile group of stocks. It is truly an “only the strong survive” industry.

In conclusion, I have to say that based on the second-quarter earnings results, the technology sector is fine and should before well the rest of the year even with the “blip” on the chart from Facebook. As of Friday, earnings from more than half of the companies in the S&P 500 Index have reported, and so far 88% beat on earnings while 74% had better-than-expected revenue. Furthermore, technology stocks continue to look good, with 35 of 36 companies beating on the bottom line.

So when it comes to assessing the value of an entire sector, try not to get caught up in the headlines about how money was lost, and the historical size of the crash, keep an eye on the entire sector. Furthermore, if money leaves Facebook, a social media company, it may flow into other stocks in the sector including Microsoft, Apple, Netflix or Amazon.

What’s Next for Tech Stocks?

In the last week, Facebook Inc. grabbed the headlines once more and once again for all the wrong reasons, with Facebook’s market cap tumbling by over $100bn to sit just above $500bn, as Facebook shares slumped 19%, the market cap collapse being the largest in U.S market history, outdoing Intel’s $90bn tumble in the bubble bursting end of the dotcom era.

Tech Stocks Contagion

FAANG has taken the headlines by storm ever since the U.S equity market rally began, largely in response to the U.S Presidential Election result back in late 2016 and members of the FAANG group have certainly been a major influence in the direction of the broader tech sector and the major U.S and global indexes.

Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google make up the grouping and the 5-stocks, alongside a more seasoned Microsoft, have continued to ultimately direct the tech sector, not just in the U.S, but also in Asia, where listed companies have significant reliance as a result of partnerships or sales revenues from one of the FANG Members.

Tech stocks have felt the contagion effect that has also weighed on the broader sector and indexes heavily weighted towards the tech sector. The supplier to Apple for instance also has a supplier and in there lies the contagion.

Facebook has faced a tumultuous time of late and, while there was some heavy fallout following the Facebook – Cambridge data scandal that certainly raises many questions over the future of social media platforms as we know it today, it was Facebook’s bread and butter ad revenue and user forecasts attributed to the data scandal that did the damage.

Facebook’s slide and influence across the broader market should perhaps be of greater concern to the U.S government, regulators and governments worldwide than the cryptomarket and future of blockchain technology.

With regulators and government groups tasked with assessing the broader cryptomarket reporting it poses little to no threat to the global financial markets, FAANG members are quite the opposite, with a vast majority of household portfolios holding one, if not all 5 stocks.

No doubt there have been some solid gains enjoyed by many, but at some point, what goes up must come down and as the tides of time shift, sentiment towards a certain platform can also shift and Cambridge Analytics contributed, though whether it’s the end of Facebook remains to be soon.

At the end of the day, while Facebook saw the biggest market cap slide in market history, long-term investors wouldn’t be at fault for missing the 20% share price slide when simply viewing the stock’s 52-week range, with Facebook Inc. still up 17.4% from its 52-week low $149.02.

Whether that brings complacency near-term, investors possibly viewing the stock as being simply 20% cheaper remains to be seen, but it wasn’t long ago that Google faced the wrath of EU regulators, with a fine more akin to the size of fines that European banks coughed up to U.S regulators off the back of breaches to SEC rules and regulations.

While U.S regulators have earned their crust fining European banks by hefty sums since the Global Financial Crisis, European regulators have found a way to hit back and that’s never going to be a good thing for an already fragile sector.

Trade War – Can It Hurt Tech Stocks?

If there was a time when the markets would have preferred the U.S president to let things be, the added attention from Trump and the administration on the tech sector and China’s reported interest and access to U.S tech companies has been another issue faced by investors favouring a sector that has certainly seen a solid run over almost 2-years.

Trump’s trade war with China has left the tech sector heavily exposed and the decision by the U.S to refute China Mobile’s request for entry into the U.S, which comes in the wake of U.S hitting China’s ZTE with sanctions that almost buried one of China’s largest tech companies, has only added to the pressure faced by tech companies.

Tariffs on Chinese goods and expectations of a technology decoupling between U.S and China tech companies is a factor that will add to the pressure. Trump has cited national security as the main reason behind the shift in attitude towards China’s tech companies and to be fair, foreign ownership in anything tech related, particularly the telecoms, should be an issue for any nation and national security and even more so when considering the fact that the cost of cybercrime is estimated to hit $6bn by 2021, quite a jump from $3bn in 2016.

The U.S has plenty to be concerned when considering the fact that both China and Russia share 3rd position behind the U.S and Israel, on best offensive cyber capabilities, the irony being that it was at Russia’s hand that Trump managed to squeeze past Clinton on his way into the Oval Office. Ironically, tech stocks might be a crucial part for a solid national cyber warfare.

Will Twitter and Facebook recover?

With so much uncertainty and sky-high valuations amongst the FAANG stocks, Apple Inc. is in focus this week, with its earnings results due out after the market close on Tuesday 31st July, with Apple Inc. enjoying a consensus buy recommendation ahead of the earnings, based on revenue EPS forecasts.

Not too dissimilar to Facebook and even Twitter, which plunged 20.54% on Friday, in response to a reported slide in monthly users, with warnings of more declines to come in the coming months weighing on investor sentiment, Twitter user numbers have been key to valuing the company and not the platform itself.

Looking away from Social media and stocks that have a heavy reliance on FAANG earnings and growth potential certainly looks to be the way forward for now and, with the trade war showing few signs of coming to an end, tech stocks with a heavy reliance on China, either as a sales market or as a supplier may also need to be carefully considered with the bias towards the negative until there is some resolution to the ongoing trade war.

Social media platforms are beginning to lose popularity at the pace at which they rose in the early years and, while there may be some support from the sheer volume of users, the market’s choice of Facebook and other FAANG members as the tech sector’s barometer may well need to change sooner rather than later.

Treasury Yields Drop Amid Concerns Trade Disputes Will Slow Economic Growth

A government report released on Friday showed that economic growth jumped in the second quarter at its fastest pace in nearly four years. According to the Department of Commerce, U.S. Gross Domestic Product rose 4.1 percent, its best pace since the third quarter of 2014 and the third-best growth rate since the Great Recession. The GDP number matched expectations from economists and was supported by an increase in consumer spending, exports and business investment.

In other economic news, U.S. consumer sentiment declined in July according to the University of Michigan. The index fell to 97.9 from 98.2 in June, as both the assessment of current economic conditions and expectations fell. Economists had forecast a 97.3 reading.

U.S. Treasury Markets

Despite the strong growth in the economy, which should have raised expectations for additional rate hikes by the Fed later in the year, U.S. Treasury yields fell on Friday as investors questioned whether the high growth rates will be sustainable especially in light of historically low levels of unemployment.

Investors followed in line with the thinking of U.S. Federal Reserve officials who are less certain GDP can remain above 4 percent. The central bankers forecast GDP to rise 2.8 percent for all of 2018 but then to tail off to 2.4 percent in 2019 and 2 percent in 2020.

The yield on 10-year Treasury note settled at 2.958, down 0.017, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond settled at 3.085, down 0.016.

U.S. Equity Markets

The major U.S. stock indexes finished lower across the board on Friday. Investors set aside the robust GDP report, choosing instead to focus on earnings.

In the cash market, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 2818.82, down 0.7 percent. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 25451.06, down 0.30% and the tech-driven NASDAQ Composite finished 1.49% lower at 7736.98.

Technology stock earnings continued to remain in focus. Contributing the most to the decline in the NASDAQ Composite were an 8.5 percent decline in shares of Intel, and 20 percent loss in shares of Twitter.

At the end of the week with over 50 percent of S&P 500 companies reporting earnings, 79.8 percent have reported better-than-expected earnings, according to data from FactSet.

U.S. Dollar

The U.S. Dollar fell against a basket of currencies on Friday, helped by the decline in U.S. Treasury yields. The drop in yields was in response to concerns that current GDP growth is unsustainable as lingering trade tensions are likely to be a drag on the economy in the second half of 2018.

The Euro finished slightly higher against the dollar following its steepest one-day loss in a month in reaction to the European Central Bank on Thursday reaffirming its plan to slowly end its accommodative monetary policy.