Between the ongoing corona crisis and the upcoming elections, the markets are plagued by uncertainty – the one thing that really gets investors worried. Uncertainty puts a cloud over the market’s likely course, making it difficult to find the stocks that will bring in returns.
Fortunately, there are some trends that are somewhat immune to this uncertainty. Just 20 years ago, these would not have moved the needle; their niches were young, just beginning their long march through our society and culture, but today Big Tech has become one of the market’s sure things.
There is no tech bigger than the FAANG stocks. This group – Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google – offers the tech we have come to want, whether it is hardware or online. Facebook invented today’s social media; Apple brings us the device innovations that have boosted mobile; Amazon has redefined online commerce. Netflix and Google have each made their own contributions, in video streaming and web search and advertising.
The FAANGs have generated investors interest and media buzz, and they have also gotten attention from some of Wall Street’s top analysts. Writing from investment firm JPMorgan, two analysts, both in the top 10% of the Street’s stock experts, have weighed in on three members of the FAANG group – and recommend them as buys. Let’s take a closer look.
Facebook, Inc. (FB)
Facebook has powered its growth through ad revenue, leveraging its massive user base – over 2.7 billion worldwide, or 35% of the global population – along with its massive database of user activity to offer finely targeted advertising. The result has been astonishing – advertisers see results, Facebook sees profits, and investors have garnered a 640% return since the company went public back in 2012.
This year, while 2020 has been lousy for many businesses, Facebook has been able to take advantage of the social lockdown policies. The company offered the prospect of social interaction online, and sold that prospect of increased traffic to advertisers. The immediate result was strong year-over-year earnings growth for FB’s shareholders.
The company saw both revenue and earnings slip in Q1, but that must be put in perspective – Q4 is the company’s strongest, with increased ad use over the holiday season. The Q1 and Q2 earnings grew 101% and 97% respectively. Looking ahead to Q3, the forecast is for $1.93. Meeting that would be somewhat of a disappointment, as last year’s Q3 saw $2.12, but it’s important to note here that FB has beating the earnings forecasts in each of the last 4 quarters.
“We believe Facebook’s virtual ownership of the social graph, strong competitive moat, and focus on the user experience position it to become an enduring blue-chip company built for the long term. Facebook is in rarefied air across the combination of scale, growth, and profitability, as the company’s massive reach and engagement continue to drive network effects, and its targeting abilities provide significant value to advertisers,” Anmuth noted.
Turning to some details, the analyst notes, “FB remains one of our top picks & we raise our 3Q ad revenue estimate from $19.5B (+12% Y/Y growth) to $19.8B (+14% Y/Y). Overall, FB grew ad revenue +10% during the first three weeks of July & mgmt. expected 3Q ad revs to grow at a similar pace…”
In line with these comments, Anmuth rates FB an Overweight (i.e. Buy), and raises his one-year price target to $315, suggesting 13% growth. (To watch Anmuth’s track record, click here)
Overall, Facebook shares get a Strong Buy from the analyst consensus. The 36 recent reviews break down to 32 Buys, 3 Holds, and 1 Sell. FB is selling for $279.40 and its average price target of $304.39 implies an upside of 9% from current levels. (See FB stock analysis on TipRanks)
Apple, Inc. (AAPL)
Apple will report FQ4 earnings this evening in what will as per usual be one of earnings season’s highlights. Looking ahead, Apple foresees slowing iPhone sales long-term, due to a combination of factors, increased device competition in China and maturation of the smartphone market’s replacement cycle. The company is compensating by pushing harder on Wearables, and leveraging the continued popularity of iPads and MacBooks – and is seeing some success. The move to 5G networking is also deemed a net-plus for Apple, and the company expects as many as 300 million iPhone users to upgrade their devices in the next two years.
Apple broke its earnings records last year in Q4, with $91.8 billion in revenues and $4.99 in EPS. Since then, the corona crisis has hit the company hard. Disruptions and supply and distribution chains, along with the economic slowdowns and the reduction in consumer spending, saw earnings fall sharply in Q1 and fall again in Q2. The second quarter EPS was just 64 cents. The poor earnings came even as revenues remained at $60 billion, near Apple’s historic mid-year levels.
The common wisdom expects Apple to see the beginning of a rebound in the CYQ3 (the company’s fiscal Q4) report later today. Revenue is predicted at $64, up 6% sequentially and matching the year-ago quarter. EPS is also predicted to rise, to 72 cents per share.
JPMorgan analyst Samik Chatterjee sees Apple in a strong position, despite macro difficulties in the market. The 5-star analyst writes, “Heading into the F4Q (Sep-end) earnings report on Oct 29, shares of Apple have significantly outperformed the S&P500 YTD (+57% vs. +7%), led by the confluence of strong iPhone demand, tailwinds for iPad/Mac from WFH/eLearning trends, and continued Services momentum, underscoring the resilient nature of Apple’s various revenue streams… We remain positive on shares of Apple led by the combination of: 1) strong demand for both legacy and new 5G iPhones; 2) leverage of strong revenue opportunity through industry leading innovation in Wearables; and 3) strong and resilient Services portfolio, benefitting from large and growing installed base of users…”
Chatterjee puts a $150 price target on AAPL shares, implying robust growth of 31% for the year ahead, and supporting his Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating on the stock. (To watch Chatterjee’s track record, click here)
Overall, Apple’s Moderate Buy consensus rating is based on 35 reviews, including 26 Buys, 8 Holds, and 1 Sell. Shares have an average price target of $125.81, suggesting 10% growth from the current trading price of $114.34. (See Apple stock analysis on TipRanks)
Last on our FAANG list today is Amazon, the company that has remade online retail in its own image, and in so doing has become a behemoth of the tech world. Amazon has found renewed opportunities in the coronavirus crisis this year. The shutdowns affected brick-and-mortar retail, and accelerated the public’s move toward e-commerce – and Amazon has been there to pick up the sales activity.
The company blew away the forecasts last quarter, with revenues of $88.9 billion and EPS of $10.30, both far ahead of forecasts. Unsurprisingly, the stock has shown strong growth this year, too, as shares are up over 70%.
The Street expects Amazon to show $7.30 in EPS for Q3, to be reported today. At this point, it’s important to note that last quarter, when the result was $10.30, the forecast was a mere $1.74. No one expects that sort of outperformance again – but no one will be surprised if Amazon beats the estimates for Q3.
Covering Amazon for JPM, Doug Anmuth notes the overall picture, saying, “We believe Amazon is well positioned as the market leader in e-commerce and public cloud, where the secular shifts remain early—US e-commerce represents ~20% of adjusted retail sales, and we estimate ~15% of workloads are in the cloud today.” He goes on to point out Amazon’s growth and prospects: “E-commerce growth continued at a near-record pace in 3Q, with non-store retail sales only decelerating ~150bps from +25.5% peak COVID-19 levels in 2Q per US DOC. Importantly, we believe AMZN is well positioned into what we expect to be a record online holiday season w/sq footage up 50% Y/Y…”
Anmuth is bullish on Amazon, giving the stock an Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating and a $4,050 price target that implies a 27% year-ahead growth. (To watch Anmuth’s track record, click here)
All in all, Amazon has a unanimous Strong Buy from the analyst consensus, based on no fewer than 38 positive reviews. Shares are selling for a whopping $3,183, and the average target of $3,773 suggests it has room for nearly 19% growth on the one-year horizon. (See Amazon stock analysis on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.