Anybody that was around in the 1999 to 2001 time period remembers well the tech bubble and explosion. The highs that the Nasdaq is setting now are breaking the old highs posted in March of 2000. In a two-and-a-half year sell-off the Nasdaq went from 5,132 to 1,329. Pundits were screaming bubble then, but few listened. There are pundits today screaming bubble, and this time, people are listening.
A new research report from RBC comes to the conclusion, based on conversations with experts, that indeed no bubble is being formed. The report cites an earnings-driven stock market, in which current forward price-to-earnings multiples are more in line with the early 1990s rather than late in the decade. The initial public offering (IPO) market is very light, with only 53 coming this year, which is more like 1980s levels. Also, the levels of tech funding through public and private offerings, both as a percentage of gross domestic product and per Internet user, are well contained and indicative of the market size and opportunity.
The bottom line? The RBC team sees no bubble, and they point out, that having lived and worked through the 1999 2001 disaster, the see very little, if any, resemblance in the current market conditions to the overbloated markets of 15 years ago. The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), an information systems theory that models how users come to accept and use a technology, is much larger today, business models are far less risky and current valuations are much more reasonable.
The RBC team points to four technology giants that are well insulated from failure and should continue to survive and thrive for years to come. Not surprisingly, all four dominate their specific niche.
This company is the absolute leader in online retail, and it is also a dominate player in the cloud storage business. Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) serves consumers through retail websites, such as Amazon.com and Amazon.ca, which primarily include merchandise and content purchased for resale from vendors and those offered by third-party sellers. In addition, the company serves developers and enterprises through Amazon Web Services (AWS), which provides compute, storage, database, analytics, applications and deployment services that enable virtually various businesses.
Amazon is one of the companies that the RBC team thinks is a direct beneficiary of the current pricing scenario. In January, AWS introduced a larger C4 instance class into its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) offer for compute-intensive workloads, such as online gaming, simulation and analytics applications.
The bottom line for investors, Amazon offers a diverse product category that will continue to benefit and enrich consumers and customers cloud, entertainment and, of course, online shopping experience. With the huge infrastructure built to deliver these services, challengers will be very difficult to find.
The Thomson/First Call consensus price target for the stock is $467.11. Shares closed Wednesday at $440.84 apiece.
This incredible, fast-growing company remains the face of social media, and a challenger seems nowhere in sight. Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has been grinding higher over the past year after a big run up in 2013 to early 2014, when the stock almost doubled, and the social media behemoth does not look to be slowing down. The revenue change over the past year was an astounding 54.69%, and it comes in as a top Internet stock pick at most firms on Wall Street.
With Instagram, Premium video and Graph Search capabilities, some analysts feel that the company can drive revenue growth even without a huge increase in advertising placement. Many analysts agree that investor sentiment is very positive and that mobile advertising growth via different silos can be added this year, in 2016 and beyond. The company also reported that Instagram is opening its platform for advertisers, particularly direct response advertisers via new direct response ad units like mobile app install ads. With a talented and experienced sales team, this should only continue to drive revenue higher.
Kenshoo is a Facebook Marketing Partner that has somewhere between $5 billion and $6 billion in direct response advertising spend running through its platform. Wall Street reports suggest that social ad spending on the company’s platform was up a staggering 100% year over year. Furthermore, Facebook continues to capture a larger share of its clients’ digital advertising budgets, in part driven by Facebook video, which is the fastest growing segment, according to Kenshoo.
Wall Street analysts see the huge virtual reality (VR) potential in the company’s purchase of Oculus and see a huge shift as humans interact to machines from smartphones and personal computers to wearables and integrated electronics that enable VR and augmented reality (AR). The also see Oculus as a good hedge on the overall relevance of the social media portfolio going forward and believe a higher multiple is warranted.
The consensus price target is set at $96.41, and the stock closed on Wednesday at $88.86 per share.
The technology giant is striving to expand customer offerings and increase the brand reach. Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) recently introduced Android Pay, a revamped photos and a lightweight Android derivative operating system they call Brillo, which is designed to power the Internet of Things. The company also recently announced a new mobile version for the Android OS that is expected to be released this fall.
While Google has competition in search, the company’s search advertising is still rising year over year a stellar 20% from big direct response advertisers and a solid, but lower, 15% from more traditional retailers. As many have expected, search traffic on desktop is growing modestly on a year-over year basis, but aggregate traffic growth is being driven by mobile.
Google remains the undisputed leader in Internet search, and when you add in a diverse portfolio that includes everything from the Android platform to You Tube, from the Google Wallet for automatic pay to the Google Flights tool, continued solid growth is not out of the question.
Some prominent Wall Street analysts also think that Google can be a big winner in AR in both the hardware and services categories. With Google Glass and the company’s big investment in Magic Leap for hardware, and VR and AR apps powering the computing of the future, Google’s massive trove of data will be key to enabling both.
Google stock has dramatically underperformed over the past year, and with a gigantic stash of cash, and new directions in countless technology silos, the future is extremely bright for the company.
The consensus price target is posted at $639.54. The stock closed trading on Wednesday at $558.57.
The stock continues to be a top media play on Wall Street. Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) just announced a massive seven-for-one stock split. The consensus on Wall Street is that the streaming content giant likely will continue to benefit from a materially stronger original content launch, which would bolster the already strong franchises like the hit political show “House of Cards.” With many consumers tired of rising cable and carrier content prices, the streaming leader may have a gigantic future in front of it.
Investor sentiment continues to stay positive on the stock as streaming hours and time spent continues to rise. In fact, the company recently noted that it logged 10 billion streaming hours in the first quarter, up 20% year over year. The video streaming company has enjoyed tremendous success of late, with shares climbing 58% over the past 12 months.
Netflix is also enjoying huge acceptance from younger millennials, who just do not view media as it was viewed in the past. In fact, many eschew cable and satellite delivery totally and just rely on Netflix, and in some cases gaming consoles, for the entertainment presentation. The bottom line? This is not fad that goes away anytime soon.
The pre-split price target for the stock is $615.89. That level is way in the rear-view mirror, as the stock closed Wednesday at $678.61.
These four stocks dominate their specific categories, and challenges to any of them are almost impossible on a large-scale level. While there could certainly be corporate hiccups in years to come, it is pretty easy to see them still standing in the distant future.