The shares of the four biggest tech stocks by market value - Apple Inc. (AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) and Facebook Inc. (FB) - may keep rising longterm despite U.S. government antitrust investigations, as investors instead focus on strong fundamentals, according to investors and analysts cited by Bloomberg and other sources. Several of these big tech stocks already have started to rebound after Monday's sell-off.
The Big Techs May Keep Rising
(YTD and 5-Year stock performance)
- Apple Inc. +15.4 %, +96.8%
- Amazon.com Inc. +14.7%, +430.1%
- Facebook Inc. +26.9%, +150.7%
- Alphabet Inc. +0.7%, +88.2%
US Senate as the 'Ultimate Firewall'
While antitrust fears wiped out over $130 billion in the four tech titan’s collective market value on Monday, many analysts doubt that the U.S. government will go for “nuclear options” such as forcing them to break up, per a detailed story in Bloomberg. Government sanctions on these companies “aren’t remotely imminent,” according to Greg Valliere, chief U.S. policy strategist at AGF Investments, who sees "wrist-slapping" actions, at most, thanks to an “enormous amount of money” that the tech industry has pumped into Washington lobbying and political contributions.
“There’s no serious legislation that has a chance of passage anytime soon” he said, per Bloomberg, adding that investigations by the Justice Department and FTC “could take years to complete.” Despite headline blasts at the industry from both sides of political spectrum in Washington, from Trump to Elizabeth Warren, Valliere emphasizes that “the pro-business Senate is the ultimate firewall."
At the very most, he expects the enactment of new privacy standards and stiffer fines for anti-competitive behavior, “nothing that would dramatically affect the firms’ earnings.”
Apple Could Gain Near 30%
This optimism is why Wedbush Securities' Apple analyst, Daniel Ives, still maintains an outperform rating on shares of the iPhone maker, per MarketWatch. His price target of $235 implies a more than 28% upside from current levels.
A Justice Department investigation, Ives wrote in a note to investors, “will be an overhang on the stock, but ultimately we would encourage investors to focus on the fundamentals of Apple in the near-term as any probe would take many years to complete as we witnessed firsthand with Microsoft in the late 1990’s/early 2000s.”
Buy Big Techs on Dip
Raymond James echoed the upbeat sentiment, looking at the pullback in tech stocks earlier this week as an opportunity to buy on the dip. Analyst Aaron Kessler wrote that post-sell off prices for the group, in particular Google and Facebook, make them more attractive from a valuation standpoint.
Kessler views ongoing investigations as posing minimal threats to these companies, as investors focus on “solid” core fundamentals, according to Bloomberg. This assumes there are no material fines or actions, added Kessler, who says the biggest roadblock could be tighter government oversight that would curtail future M&A.
To be sure, Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) antitrust case two decades ago shows the risks to these stocks. The U.S. government and 20 states won their antitrust suit against Microsoft in 2001, forcing the company to give up its browser monopoly and take other steps. Due to several factors, Microsoft's stock peaked before that court decision and then went sideways for the next 15 years.