Big tech stocks are weighing on the Nasdaq-100, dropping the market-leading index to a three-week low. Trade tensions and a tariff list chock-full of the industry's profitable products suggest even lower prices before the sector resumes its bullish trajectory. However, non-tech gems within the index could limit downside pressure, with market players rotating out of over-loved FAANG names and into these lesser-known components.

Keepers of the Nasdaq-100 have broadened its scope in recent years, adding non-tech blue chips that include American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) and Walgreen Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA). Lower volume management, medical device and business service companies have further broadened this diversity, with a basket of these issues now perfectly positioned to assume the leadership mantle if tech's household names continue to falter. (See also: Trade Wars Could Drop Apple Shares to $200.)

 

IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. (IDXX) develops, manufactures and distributes veterinary diagnostic products. The stock has quietly drawn one of the most bullish long-term charts in the market universe, rising nearly 1,300% since the 2008 low, and it could add to gains well into the next decade. Admittedly, it's tough to buy this high flier at the current price level, but that could change in the coming weeks.

A multi-year uptrend ended above $170 in April 2017, yielding a correction that found support at $146 in November. It returned to resistance in January 2018 and broke out, adding more than 75 points into September. Price action entered a rising channel at the corrective low, with highs and lows still contained within its boundaries. The stock has eased into the channel's midpoint since reversing at resistance in July and could offer a low-risk entry on a decline into channel support near $230. (For more, see: 7 High-Margin Stocks Poised to Beat the Market.)

 

Cosmetic and skin care provider Ulta Beauty, Inc. (ULTA) came public at $33.00 in October 2007, at the height of the mid-decade bull market, and topped out immediately in the mid-$30s. It plummeted to $4.11 during the 2008 economic collapse and turned higher into the new decade, returning the prior high in November 2010. The stock broke out a few weeks later, entering a powerful uptrend that posted an all-time high at $315 in June 2017.

The subsequent correction found support at the 200-week exponential moving average (EMA) below $200 in October and tested that level into March 2018, posting a double bottom reversal, followed by a multi-wave recovery that has now reached resistance at the .786 Fibonacci sell-off retracement level near $300. A pullback into the May and July highs near $260 could offer a low-risk buying opportunity in this scenario, ahead of a buying wave that reaches the 2017 high. (See also: The Bull Market Turns Nine: A Look at the Top Performers.)

 

Cintas Corporation (CTAS) provides branded uniforms and related industrial products that include mops, mats and fire protection gear. A multi-year uptrend topped out in the low $50s in 1999, marking a price peak that wasn't challenged until 2013. A breakout at that time generated a torrid trend advance, quadrupling the stock price in the past five years. The rally entered a rising channel after the presidential election and mounted channel resistance in July 2018, 

Buying interest has continued into September, but extremely overbought technical readings raise the odds for a multi-week pullback. Breakout support between $200 and $208 could come into play in the downturn, offering a potential buying opportunity, ahead of bounce back to rising highs resistance (blue line) at $225.  A more defensive strategy might work better, given low reward potential, sitting on our hands while waiting for a larger-scale decline to reach prior channel support that is now aligned with the 50-week EMA at $180. (For more, see: Trade Wars: 6 Stocks That Are Leading the Pack.)

The Bottom Line

Capital exiting popular big tech plays due to tariff headwinds could find its way into the Nasdaq-100 index's lesser-known leadership components. (For additional reading, check out: Does It Make Sense to Short US Stocks?

<Disclosure: The author held no positions in the aforementioned securities at the time of publication.>

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