Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet — the so-called Fang stocks — have collectively added $83.4bn to their market value over the first seven trading days this year. Mark Zuckerberg’s social media site added $31.9bn, the largest gain in absolute and per cent terms.
Fang stocks hit the ground running, advancing, on average, 6.6 per cent, compared with a 4 per cent drop over the same period in 2016 as fears of a US recession and skittishness about the Chinese economy drove broader US equities and the Fangs lower at the start of last year.
Investors also soured on the Fangs and the broader S&P 500 technology sector in the week after Donald Trump won the presidential election in November. The sell-off was fuelled by concerns that his immigration policies could hurt these companies because the groups rely on highly skilled workers from abroad. Mr Trump’s campaign policies on trade also made investors antsy because of their international supply chains as did uncertainty about his stance on net neutrality — the idea that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally.
But a conciliatory tone struck by the president-elect during a mid-December meeting with Silicon Valley chief executives, including Jeff Bezos and Larry Page, helped alleviate some of those concerns. And by the time the new year rolled round, Fangs appeared to have shaken off those concerns.
Their advance has been driven in part by a broader rally in the Nasdaq Composite that has pushed deeper into record territory — hitting three all-time highs already this year. But part of the gains have also been driven by improving outlook on the companies.
Douglas Anmuth, an analyst at JPMorgan, said Facebook, Netflix and Alphabet, remained their “favourite names” among large-caps this year. He said enthusiasm towards Facebook, his top large-cap pick, “remains somewhat muted” amid fears about ad load growth, potential for slower revenue growth and slowing engagement. However, he said: “We believe these fears are largely overdone and continue to create a good buying opportunity”.
Mr Anmuth also said Netflix’s membership price changes pushed through last year, stronger original content that was set to surge and increased global profitability mean he expected the stock to outperform this year.
Meanwhile, sentiment on ecommerce site Amazon has been aided as US consumers spent a record $91.7bn online during the November and December holiday period, according to Adobe Digital Insights. That was an 11 per cent increase from the year-ago period. Amazon also dominated the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with its virtual assistant, Alexa, which carmaker Ford picked to be the voice-activated digital assistant in its cars.
The advance this year in Fang shares compares with a 1.6 per cent gain in the S&P 500 to 2,275.3 and a 1 per cent rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average to 19,954.2 over the same period. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite has jumped 3.4 per cent to 5,563.6.
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