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Why it’s time to 'de-fang' FANG: BNY Mellon's Levine

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent

It’s time to stop thinking of FANG stocks as a group of high-performing tech stocks that collectively impact the S&P 500.   

That’s according to Alicia Levine, chief market strategist at BNY Mellon Investment Management, who argues Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX), and Google parent Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) ought to be de-coupled, in part because of the fundamental differences in their business models.

“I think it’s time to de-fang FANG,” Levine told Yahoo Finance on Thursday. “There are very different business models … It’s time to break it [FANG] apart, because there are some companies that may be under threat of sort of regulation. There are other companies that have product cycles. We call it ‘tech,’ but these are very different business models with different margins attached to them.”

With regards to regulation, Levine, of course, is referring to Facebook, which earned the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill and abroad when Russians purchased over 3,500 ads on the social network in an attempt to meddle with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A number of scandals, including Cambridge Analytica in March, also rocked Facebook, with revelations of data breaches and the hiring of PR firm hiring Definers Public Affairs, a Republican-aligned public relations firm that conducted opposition research on the company’s critics, including billionaire George Soros.

Source: Yahoo Finance

Given Facebook’s rocky year, Facebook stock unsurprisingly is down almost 20% year-to-date, and some users are either taking breaks from the social network or deleting the app entirely from their smartphones. It’s also unclear how Facebook will evolve over the next few years as it goes head-to-head against lawmakers.

Levine may have a point. Although FANG stocks in years past have traditionally been lauded for being high-performing growth stocks because of their focus on growing technologies such as social media, cloud storage services, and big data, shareholders have punished Facebook stock this year. (In addition to Facebook stock’s 20% drop this year, Google is also down over 9% this year, as well.)

Instead, Levine, recommends investors pay close attention to companies that can “withstand” many of the headwinds potentially moving forward. Her preferences? Software and cloud-based services.

Levine didn’t specify which software and cloud-based services she sees as having such endurance and longevity, but it’s worth noting both Amazon and Netflix stock are up year-to-date nearly 32% and 31%, respectively. In particular, Amazon Web Services continues to see excellent revenues with a growth rate around 46% year-over-year with a $27 billion revenue run rate.  

“I like software, and I like cloud,” Levine said. “I think that’s a great place to be. I think that anything that’s right now leveraged to the China trade problem feels a little bit risky because the truth is, we don’t know where this is going yet. There’s a lot of big unknowns in this, and you’re talking about two big personalities. And everyday, you don’t want to open the newspaper and find your stock position got killed because someone said something overnight.”

JP Mangalindan is the Chief Tech Correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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