Big Tech has been in the news and on our minds as this crazy year 2020 winds toward an end. While the election has resulted in divided government, unlikely to have the majorities needed for sweeping reforms in any area, there is a growing consensus the hi-tech giants are getting too big. Congress is starting to look at the giant tech firms through the lens of anti-trust legislation, while regulators, including the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are considering similar suits and actions.
A potential breakup – or at least an attempt at one – is the only dark spot for what is otherwise one of the markets success stories in a generally hard year. The FAANG stocks – Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google – have made huge appreciation gains. If Big Tech doesn’t seem worried by potential regulatory crackdowns, it’s in part because of deep pockets available to defend the turf.
No matter what happens, one thing is certain: Big Tech will continue to impact the industry, the news, and our social culture – and Wall Street’s analysts have been taking note.
Using TipRanks database, we pinpointed three FAANG stocks that have received enough support from Wall Street analysts to earn a Moderate or Strong Buy consensus rating. Let's take a closer look.
Currently the third-largest publicly traded company on Wall Street, valued at $1.65 trillion, Amazon boasts a history of rebounding from tough times. The company survived the dot.com bubble burst of the late 90s, but by the beginning of 2001 the shares were trading at just $13.88. Since then, Amazon has seen tremendous growth; $1000 invested in AMZN in 2001 would be worth over $228,000 today.
Amazon’s strength through the corona crisis – and the associated social and economic lockdown policies – has been obvious. As an online retailer, delivering an enormous range of products from books to clothes to batteries to canned alligator tail meat (yes, really, go check!), Amazon was quick to take advantage of the imposed decline in brick-and-mortar storefronts. The company’s fast delivery, competitive pricing, and endless inventory cemented its position as the king of modern retail.
The quarterly results show the story. Quarterly revenue and earnings took a hit between 4Q19 and 1Q20, at the start of the pandemic, but quickly rebounded. Revenues hit $96.14 billion in Q3, beating the estimates and growing 37% year-over-year. Third quarter EPS came in at $12.37, a record, and 66% higher than forecast. It’s important to note that Amazon recorded this growth despite a 57% yoy increase in delivery costs.
Cowen analyst John Blackledge, rated 5-stars by TipRanks, paints a picture of continued growth through multiple channels for Amazon, both next year and for several years after.
“Amazon has several drivers that should yield robust global revenue growth with rising margins the next several years, namely (i) further B2C eCommerce market share gains in large retail verticals; (ii) emerging eCommerce verticals like B2B; (iii) significant opportunity in existing and newer Int’l markets like India, Mexico, and Australia; (iv) AWS should enjoy years of secular tailwinds, driving revenue CAGR of ~24% ’21-‘26E as workloads migrate to the Cloud; and (v) AMZN Advertising, while still nascent, will drive both revenue growth and margin opportunity,” Blackledge opined.
In line with this bullish thesis, Blackledge rates AMZN an Outperform (i.e. Buy), and his price target of $4,350 implies a one-year upside of ~32%. (To watch Blackledge’s track record, click here)
The Strong Buy analyst consensus rating on Amazon is almost unanimous – of 37 recent reviews, 36 say Buy, swamping the lone Hold. The shares are priced at $3,283.96, and the average price target $3,825.60 suggests the stock has room for 16.5% growth in 2021. (See AMZN stock analysis on TipRanks)
Mark Zuckerberg’s social media creation turned the internet upside down and forever changed the way we interact online – both socially and, more recently, through commerce. The tracking of our online habits, and the application of that information in marketing and advertising, has become the subject of Congressional inquiries, regulatory interest, the worries of privacy advocates – and the foundation of multi-billion-dollar fortunes. The company today is worth over $780 billion.
Of the three FAANG stocks on this list, Facebook has seen the lowest gain trajectory in 2020, with shares appreciating 35% for the year. This compares unfavorably to the NASDAQ’s 44% year-to-date gain.
Facebook faces at least two major headwinds, which have grown stronger in recent months and weeks. The company is accused of censoring information during the 2020 election season and campaign, and its ownership of Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger is attracting unwanted attention from antitrust regulators. Both Congress and the Federal Trade Commission are starting to investigate the latter issue.
Even with the headwinds, Facebook has leveraged its dominance in the social media sphere to increase ad revenues. The top line for Q3, $21.5 billion, was up 22% year-over-year, and beat the forecast by 8.5%. The financial gains outpaced the growth in daily active users, which was 12% for the quarter; the total number hit 1.82 billion.
While Facebook has a more complex story than some of the other Big Tech firms, it’s still a compelling investment tale -- at least according to Guggenheim analyst Michael Morris.
“Over the longer-term, we see several incremental opportunities within messaging advertising and publishers’ on-platform activity that is not reflected in consensus revenue expectations [...] Over time Facebook plans to complete its rollout of WhatsApp messaging links within IG/FB Shops for direct communications with business, which we see as particularly relevant for local, service-based businesses. For major publishers, Facebook currently provides revenue-share opportunities for major outlets on its News tab to drive additional engagement. We view such channels as an incremental longer-term opportunity for niche, audience-based (i.e., gaming, home décor) marketing and related monetization for Facebook," Morris wrote.
Morris complements this with a Buy rating and a $365 price target that indicates a 36% upside potential for the coming 12 months. (To watch Morris’ track record, click here)
Facebook has also earned a Strong Buy rating from the analyst consensus, with 33 Buys, 2 Holds, a 1 Sell set in recent weeks. The stock is currently selling for $277, and its $321.06 average price target suggests a 16% upside from that level. (See FB stock analysis on TipRanks)
Last up, Apple, has become one of the world’s iconic brands. Its bitten-apple logo instantly recognizable worldwide. The iPhone ushered in the era of handheld smart devices, and the iPad and iMac product lines continue to attract a loyal user base. The company has continued to introduce popular products in recent years, such as the Apple Watch, the iPod earbuds, and is even researching an entry into the electric vehicle market.
These varied moves in established products and cutting-edge tech are fitting for the world’s most valuable company. With its $2.3 trillion market cap, Apple is larger than some countries; at the start of this year, Apple’s market cap was over 6% of the world’s total GDP.
Heading toward the end of the year, Apple is rebounding from a slightly disappointing fiscal Q4 report. The company reported $64.7 billion for the quarter, the best of the 2020 calendar year – but slightly below expectations as iPhone sales failed to meet goals. Since then, however, the iPhone 12 has been released, and sales are surging. The company has announced in recent weeks that it plans to increase device production by 20% to 30% to meet increased demand for the iPhone line. iPhone 12 models lead the way, but demand is also strong for the older iPhone 11 and iPhone SE. In gross numbers, Apple expects to build 230 million units, or about one-fourth of its total installed user base.
Covering Apple for Wedbush, 5-star analyst Daniel Ives wrote, "Our recent Asia checks continue to be bullish around iPhone 12 demand both domestically and in China. In the US we are seeing 'a clear tick up' for demand around the iPhone 12 Pro versions with the 6.1-inch model the star of the show… For the key China region, demand remains very healthy with strong pent-up demand for upgrades heading into holiday season for this latest iPhone 12 5G, which we would characterize as the strongest product cycle for Cook & Co. thus far since iPhone 6 in 2014.”
Accordingly, Ives rates Apple shares an Outperform (i.e. Buy), and his $160 price target implies a 17% upside on the one-year time frame. (To watch Ives’ track record, click here)
Oddly, Apple is the one stock on this list which does not have a Strong Buy rating. The 30 recent reviews break down to 23 Buys, 6 Holds, and 1 Sell, making the consensus view a Moderate Buy. The average price target is $131.88, and recent share appreciation has pushed the trading price to $136.69, just above the target. (See AAPL stock analysis on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.