Stock investors looking for shelter from volatile markets may find a safe haven in diversified tech giant Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), Google’s parent company. Alphabet is outperforming the rest of the market, down just 1.6% compared to the S&P 500’s 7.1% decline over the past year, as of Friday’s close. The tech giant is also outperforming fellow FAANG members Facebook Inc. (FB) and Apple Inc. (AAPL), which are down 25.2% and 14.3%, respectively, over the past year. Netflix Inc. (NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), however, are up 44.7% and 30.2%, respectively, over the same time frame.
“To the extent that the near term may hold continued stock market volatility, we view Alphabet as the most defensive of the ‘FANG’ stocks given the steady performance and reasonable valuation,” wrote analyst Maria Ripps of Canaccord Genuity, according to Barron’s. Ripps recently upgraded shares of Alphabet from Hold to Buy and raised her price target on the class A shares to $1,250, which is below Factset’s average near $1,349 and implies 16% upside from Friday’s closing price.
What it Means for Investors
That optimistic outlook is driven by Canaccord’s expectation of 15%-20% revenue growth over the next two to three years for the company, which with the aid of stock buybacks and widening gross margins will lead to a compounded annual earnings-per-share growth rate of at least 15% through 2022.
Much of that revenue growth will come from Alphabet’s enormous advertising presence and especially its continual expansion in the digital ad space. According to Canaccord’s estimates, Google’s share of total global advertising spend has expanded to around 20% while its share of global digital ad spend has increased to about 45%.
One thing that makes Alphabet a favorite in the digital ad space compared to rivals like Facebook is the diversified nature of its business. The tech giant has seven separate business platforms with at least 1 billion users each, including Search, Chrome, Maps, YouTube, Google Play Store, Android and Gmail. By comparison, Facebook has just four services with as many users: its main app, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.
To be sure, Alphabet may get pulled down further as long as the markets continue to drop, but in the long run, Canaccord expects it to be a more defensive pick among big tech stocks. Barring any regulatory crackdown on market power from Washington and any missteps like Facebook has made regarding privacy issues, the Google parent looks set to outperform.