The four big tech stocks known as the FANGs have soared this year - amid more than a few heart-stopping pullbacks. And they still may have quite a way to go, according to Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research at market research firm GBH Insights, according to Barron's. In his research report, Ives finds that the FANG stocks are fueled by "very healthy" fundamentals and spending trends that outweigh any risks on the regulatory and tax fronts. This makes them "highly attractive" investments in his estimation, per Barron's. The FANG stocks include Facebook Inc. (FB), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), Netflix Inc. (NFLX), and Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), the parent of Google.
Facebook: Expanding & Monetizing
Ives has set a target price of $210, 19% above its close on December 7. Facebook is up 53% for the year-to-date through December 7.
Facebook has 2 billion active monthly users, a number that is growing, thereby driving increases in advertising revenue. The company also owns Instagram, which Ives calls its "golden jewel," on pace to top 1 billion users of its own by mid-year 2018, up 25% from today, Barron's says. Ives sees yet more growth being spurred by forays into augmented reality (AR), video, and mobile, among others.
On the negative side, Facebook projects that expenses may grow by between 45% and 60% in 2018, per Ives and Barron's. Key drivers of the expense bump are the hiring of staff to enhance security and collection of payments for its Watch original videos.
Amazon: Diversified Dominance
His target is $1,350, for a gain of 16% from December 7. Amazon is up 55% for the year-to-date through December 7.
Amazon's share of Cyber Monday sales was around 45% to 50%, versus 38% in 2016. Prime membership has surged past 85 million, and its cloud computing unit Amazon Web Services is increasing revenues at roughly a 40% annual clip. Ives cites all these as evidence of Amazon's ability to increase its dominance wherever it goes.
The downside with diversifying into so many different markets, he says, is that Amazon now faces competition on an increasing number of fronts. He sees rising "execution risks" in Amazon's purchase of grocer Whole Foods as well as Amazon's rumored move into pharmacy services during 2018.
Netflix: More Original Content, Bigger Global Footprint
Ives' target price of $235 is 27% above the December 7 close. Netflix has gained 50% YTD through December 7, but this is down 9% from its 52-week high of $204.38 reached on October 17, per Yahoo Finance.
Netflix is aggressively moving to enhance its competitive position by increasing spending on producing original content from about $1 billion in 2017 to as much as $8 billion in 2018, per Ives. He also notes that the company has significant untapped growth potential outside the U.S., with the opportunity to reach as many as 100 million non-U.S. subscribers by 2020.
The risk is that Netflix faces increased competition in the video streaming market from deep-pocketed rivals Amazon and Apple Inc. (AAPL), among others. Ives also notes that recent price increases by Netflix in the range of 10% to 16% for some of its subscription packages may dampen customer retention and growth.
Google: All About YouTube
His price target of $1,190 is 14% above the December 7 close. Alphabet is up 32% YTD through December 7.
YouTube has proven to be a major generator of advertising revenues, with over 1.5 billion people each watching for an hour or more on an average day, Ives says. Its cutting-edge ventures into the frontiers of technology may grab headlines, but YouTube and mobile search are the real money spinners, he indicates.
"Mobile remains the gateway to its next phase of growth with an increasingly more crowded and price competitive landscape," Ives warns, as quoted by Barron's.