Not My Problem: Tech Stocks Decouple From Facebook as Woes Mount
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook added to losses in high-flying tech peers on Monday. But today, they’re standing strong.
Apple Inc., Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are up at least 0.5 percent, compared with Facebook Inc.’s dip of as much as 6.2 percent. The social media company has lost 12 percent this week, its biggest two-day retreat since 2012, based on closing prices.
News that a company linked to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign may have collected data from Facebook users without permission sparked concern that the social media giant -- and potentially its peers -- could face increased regulatory scrutiny. Investors seem to be mostly shrugging off this concern, at least for now. Shares of Facebook have been under pressure for months amid concern over the company’s role in Russian meddling in the 2016 election, even as its peers in the FANG Index of tech megacaps managed to withstand the pressure.
“While the last two days were exceedingly harsh, the stock has been losing ground on a relative basis for quite some time,” said Frank Cappelleri, senior equity trader at Instinet LLC. “What if Facebook continues to struggle but the rest of the market can shrug it off? That’s just a question to consider.”
A Congressional official familiar with the matter said Facebook tentatively agreed to brief House Judiciary members as early as Wednesday over the use of Facebook users’ personal data by Cambridge Analytica, a firm hired as a consultant to Trump’s campaign. The news helped the Nasdaq 100 Index erase earlier gains and briefly trade in the red. This compares with a 1.1 percent gain in Netflix, a 2.5 percent jump in Nvidia Corp. and a 2 percent rally in Amazon. Twitter Inc., facing its own potential regulatory scrutiny in Israel, fell 9.6% in its worst day since July.
What if tighter regulation spreads to market darlings like Amazon and Netflix? To Michael Purves, chief global strategist at Weeden & Co., it could force investors to rotate out of the group that has grown in strides, partly because of the absence of any regulatory pressure. To London Capital Group’s Jasper Lawler, the potential regulation of tech megacaps will make investors question whether the group, which jumped twice as much as the S&P 500 Index last year, is still a smart purchase.
“The tech giant’s fast-and-loose handing of private data will feed the niggling doubt investors have had all along that the big U.S. tech stocks cannot keep going up so rapidly forever,” said Jasper Lawler, London Capital Group’s head of research. “Looking further out, legal action and greater industry regulation are huge headwinds ‘the Zuck’ has to contend with.”
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