Fund Managers Dropping, Cutting Positions in Facebook

Facebook’s (FB) Cambridge Analytica data scandal may not be causing users to jump ship in record numbers but it is prompting some fund managers to curtail or unload their position in the stock.

Citing fund managers that own shares of the social media giant, the Wall Street Journal reported that stock pickers are losing patience with the company, which has dragged down the tech sector and the rest of the so-called FANG group -- Facebook, Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX) and Google (GOOG) -- ever since its data scandal broke in mid-March. Facebook had revealed that the political consulting group accessed 87 million Facebook users' data without their consent.  

Combined, the FANG stocks have lost more than $200 billion in market capitalization since the news broke. Netflix has fared the best with the stock not selling off as much as its peers. Even so, bears have been telling the Wall Street Journal that Facebook and the rest of the FANG stocks are still the best bets for investors. (See more: Netflix Will Be Cash Flow Positive in 5 Years: Moody's.)

Nevertheless, the recent problems at the company have resulted in some fund managers considering investments that leave out of  F in FANG. They worry Facebook could lose users, causing revenue growth to cool, making other tech companies more attractive. Brad Slingerlend, a portfolio manager at the Janus Henderson Global Technology Fund, told the paper his fund, which has stakes in Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, had begun reducing the position in Facebook before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke but sees more pressure on the company as a result. That’s even with the share price 16% lower than February's high. The fund manager isn’t sure the stock has come down enough to reflect the risks to Facebook’s business. (See more: How Much Can Facebook Potentially Make from Selling Your Data?)

Slingerlend is still optimistic about the future of Amazon and Netflix, saying the two will continue to disrupt business markets while Alphabet’s diversified business operations enable it to be a leading player in several fields. Slingerlend said he isn’t planning on reducing his holdings in Alphabet and Amazon by a lot even if there is increased regulation.   

But it's not just mutual funds that are getting out of their Facebook positions. Scott Freeze, chief investment officer at Sabretooth Advisors, which manages the AdvisorShares New Tech & Media exchange-traded fund told the Wall Street Journal the actively-managed ETF sold its position in Facebook shortly before the data scandal. Instead of being a holder of the social media company, Freeze said the ETF is aiming to find the next group of FANG stocks that will perform similar to this group in past years. Freeze pointed to Square (SQ), the digital payment company, as one example. “FANG is not a set of four companies. It’s an idea,” Freeze told the paper. “There are FANG stocks every generation, every decade. Nothing stays on top forever.”

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