Tech stock crash: One chart shows FAANG’s market dominance will wane

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Tech stocks are frequently branded as the new torchbearers of the stock market. And based on their performance over the past decade, it’s hard to argue with that classification.

But what if tech stocks are just locked in a temporary cycle of expansion — one that’s doomed to give way to a hot new group at some point in the future?

That’s an idea being bandied about by the noted market bear John Hussman, a former economics professor who is president of the Hussman Investment Trust. He argued in a recent blog post that seemingly unassailable tech juggernauts like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google would one day be replaced as the illuminati of the stock market.

Hussman said that while some analysts had “argued that the current batch of glamour technology companies has boosted profit margins permanently,” they seemed unaware of what he called “the regularity with which this argument has been made across history.”

He continued: “The argument is recurrently applied to a rotating group of companies that invariably become associated with the New Economy, as opposed to the defunct Old Economy upon which traditional valuation measures have been defined.”

Read more: Forget FANG — a $135 billion investor says a new group of stocks is poised to dominate the market going forward

In support of his point, Hussman uses the chart below, which shows the logistic growth curves for the aforementioned FAANG elite. The plot points show company revenue as a percentage of 2018 trailing-12-month annual sales, relative to annual revenue growth over the subsequent two-year period.

As you can see, the trend is firmly downward-sloping, suggesting the companies will start to lose their luster over time.

Hussman Funds

Perhaps the most notable finding on this chart relates to Apple, whose data is represented by pink triangles. Based on that, Apple appears to be the closest to seeing growth peak, which is a timely observation given the company’s recent warning that sales would expand at a weaker pace than expected.

The big conclusion that Hussman hopes you draw from his chart is that, despite protestations to the contrary, the market’s mega-cap tech leaders aren’t as invincible as they seem. They may be paradigm-shifting businesses that have redefined commerce as we know it, but they can’t rule forever.

“One of the hard lessons that investors will learn in the coming quarters is that technology stocks are actually cyclicals,” Hussman said, reiterating an observation he made back in August 2000. “Modest changes in economic growth and overall corporate profitability have a highly leveraged impact on the revenue growth and profitability of technology companies.”

2019-01-30 06:05:00

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