Morgan Stanley Suggests Rout in Expensive Tech Is Almost Over
(Bloomberg) -- The rate-induced selloff in hyper-expensive technology shares has almost run its course, if past shocks are any guide. The news for the rest of the market is less reassuring.
So reckons Morgan Stanley, which compared the carnage in tech that started in December to the five previous instances where rising Treasury yields sparked similar routs. In those, a basket of loftily valued tech companies tumbled a median 18% from peak to trough -- that’s at 15% now in the latest episode. The bank also plotted the S&P 500’s current performance against the earlier instances and says that at 2%, the latest decline is less than half what happened in the past.
“Indices could have more downside than the underperformers of the last few months” if yield pressure continues to build, Morgan Stanley strategists including Christopher Metli and Amanda Levenberg wrote in a note to clients. While much will depend on what yields will do going forward, they expect the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 to show “modest further downside” over the next two weeks. “Rallies should be sold,” they added.
Nothing that occurred before is sure to happen again, of course. But the study could be a framework for arguments that selling in speculative corners has played out.
Hedge funds have been furiously unwinding concentrated positions in speculative software and internet names. A basket of their crowded stocks has fallen 7.1% from its recent peak, approaching the median drawdown that they suffered over the past five years when rates spiked.
Sentiment among those managers was dealt a fresh blow to start the new year as their favorite positions went awry. With net leverage sitting in the 70th percentile relative to recent history, Morgan Stanley strategists suggest the industry’s overall equity exposure may need to come down with the Federal Reserve turning hawkish and the one potential antidote to the rate anxiety -- the earnings season -- still weeks away.
“That leaves technicals and positioning to play a larger role near-term,” they wrote. “The early year hits to P/L are having a big impact on sentiment and investors’ likelihood of adding or even holding risk, particularly coming off the poor alpha of 2021.”
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