Once thought of as nothing more than risky high growth tech stocks, FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) have turned into the modern day consumer staples complex amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NYSE FANG+ Index (^NYFANG)— comprised of 10 top names in tech such as the aforementioned Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google — has climbed to within 3% of its record high of 3,905 hit on Feb. 19. For good measure, the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) remains 11% shy of its Feb. 14 all-time high.
“With this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic causing a near-term consumer/enterprise spending abyss and the markets under major pressure, the FAANG names have been viewed as relative safety blankets in this scary Category 5 storm,” says Wedbush tech analyst Dan Ives.
To Ives’ point, the FAANG cohort continue to be viewed by the Street as having reliably strong earnings growth, relatively safe free cash flow production and management teams that are willing to invest today for the long-term. All of those factors were on display when the sector reported first quarter earnings results several weeks ago.
At the very core of the upbeat thesis by analysts such as Ives is the technology each player provides, ranging from products and services that help businesses recover quickly from economic downturns or be more productive during them or allows consumers to consume content on the cheap. It’s the technology that Corporate America and U.S. households are unlikely to cut during their current desire to trim expenses to protect their balance sheets during the global recession.
In turn, the stocks are being handsomely rewarded by investors still fearful of another market downdraft at the hands of the global health crisis. And it’s unlikely that sentiment changes in the near-term.