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The pain might not be over for tech stocks: Morning Brief

·Anchor
·4 min read

This article first appeared in the Morning Brief. Get the Morning Brief sent directly to your inbox every Monday to Friday by 6:30 a.m. ET. Subscribe

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

It's been a three-month slog for tech stocks. It might not be over. 

Two things can be true at the same time. 

It is true that the Nasdaq is a mere 2% off its record high. 

It is also true that the last three months have not been an easy time to be a tech investor. 

The Nasdaq hit a record high of 14,095 on February 12. On April 26, the index hit a marginal record of 14,138. Between those two highs the Nasdaq fell about 10%. After the more recent high, the index fell almost 8%. 

So while Monday's gain of more than 1.5% for the Nasdaq might reassure some investors, the macro drivers for the tech trade — which has led the market over the last decade — continue to be challenged. And the frustration for investors overweight these sectors might not be over yet. 

"We don't think there's any problem with the fundamentals in the tech space," RBC strategist Lori Calvasina told Yahoo Finance Live on Monday. "But we think it's been an over-owned, over-valued part of the market and it's just the wrong macro backdrop for this part of the market at this moment in time."

The backdrop for the market right now, of course, is one where growth is accelerating and inflation is accelerating as the economy re-opens after a pandemic-induced shock. 

And so sectors and investment styles that benefit more from GDP growth accelerating are in favor when compared to sectors and investment styles that can gain share in other environments.

Deutsche Bank strategists led by Parag Thatte published a note Friday that showed investors continuing to pour money into both equity and fixed income products that are perceived as inflation winners: TIPS, energy, materials, and financials. 

Areas of the market that benefit from higher inflation have seen strong inflows over the last few months. (Source: Deutsche Bank)
Areas of the market that benefit from higher inflation have seen strong inflows over the last few months. (Source: Deutsche Bank)

Energy, materials, and financials are also well represented in cyclical trades, value trades, and re-opening plays. Commodity prices have soared. Infrastructure expectations are up. And more economic growth paired with higher rates feeds into the financial system. 

And the money moving into this sector is coming from investors lightening up on their tech trades. 

"We think inflationary pressures are here," Calvasina told Yahoo Finance on Monday. "And tech is one of the biggest sources of funding for rotation back into reflationary plays... So we think it's just not the right time yet to jump back into this space."

In a note published last week, Calvasina and her team "dig into the style rotation from a different angle by addressing the question of whether the pain in big Tech has fully played out. Our work suggests that it has not for a few reasons."

Positioning away from tech as indicated by Nasdaq futures hasn't been washed out the way prior instances of sentiment reversals saw in 2018 and 2009, Calvasina notes. Additionally, valuations in the tech sector are still elevated relative to the rest of the market and tech's historical valuations. And as we noted above, flows have just not been encouraging with tech ETF inflows flattening out this year. 

Cumulative into tech funds have been about flat for months now as cyclical and value sectors have come into favor amid a new cycle of economic growth after the pandemic. (Source: RBC)
Cumulative into tech funds have been about flat for months now as cyclical and value sectors have come into favor amid a new cycle of economic growth after the pandemic. (Source: RBC)

By Myles Udland, reporter and anchor for Yahoo Finance Live. Follow him at @MylesUdland

What to watch today

Economy

  • 9:00 a.m. ET: FHFA House Price Index, month-over-month, March (1.2% expected, 0.9% in February)

  • 9:00 a.m. ET: S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index, month-over-month, March (1.3% expected, 1.17% in February)

  • 9:00 a.m. ET: S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index, year-over-year, March (12.5% expected, 11.94% in February)

  • 10:00 a.m. ET: New home sales, April (950,000 expected, 1.021 million in March)

  • 10:00 a.m. ET: Conference Board Consumer Confidence, May (119.0 expected, 121.7 in April)

  • 10:00 a.m. ET: Richmond Fed. Manufacturing Index, May (19 expected, 17 in April)

Earnings

Pre-market

  • 6:55 a.m. ET: AutoZone (AZO) is expected to report adjusted earnings of $20.19 per share on revenue of $3.29 billion 

Post-market

  • 4:00 p.m. ET: Intuit (INTU) is expected to report adjusted earnings of $6.40 per share on revenue of $4.34 billion 

  • 4:05 p.m. ET: Nordstrom (JWN) is expected to report adjusted losses of 54 cents per share on revenue of $2.86 billion 

  • 4:05 p.m. ET: Zscaler (ZS) is expected to report adjusted earnings of 7 cents per share on revenue of $164.00 million 

  • 4:05 p.m. ET: Agilent Technologies (A) is expected to report adjusted earnings of 83 cents per share on revenue of $1.39 billion 

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