under the direct management of its famous founder turned out to be a bit of a letdown. Revenue and operating income for the second quarter both fell shy of Wall Street’s estimates, as did the high end of the company’s revenue forecast for the current quarter. It was the first time the e-commerce titan missed the high end of its own sales projections in two years, according to data from FactSet.
as the largest U.S. company by annual sales some time next year, while still growing at double-digit rates. Growth at the company’s crucial AWS cloud business also picked up, with revenue jumping 37% year over year compared with a 32% rise in the last quarter. That lines up with trends shown by cloud rivals
and Google earlier this week, suggesting that the market leader, AWS, is at least holding its ground.
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But the boom in online sales Amazon enjoyed at the start of the pandemic created a challenging comparison for the most recent quarter. Thursday’s results confirmed the suspicions of some analysts that the company’s Prime Day sales event in late June underwhelmed. Amazon’s online stores segment saw revenue grow by only 16% to $53.2 billion in the second quarter, falling well short of analysts’ targets. Revenue growth from third-party and subscription services decelerated. Advertising revenue, reflected in the company’s “Other” segment, showed a strong jump of 87% year over year to $7.9 billion. But advertising still contributes only about 7% to Amazon’s total revenue.
The results create a bit more of a challenging setup for new CEO
as Amazon will face difficult comparisons for the rest of the year following its pandemic-fueled sales jump in 2020. But the bar seems low enough. The midpoint of the company’s revenue projection for the third quarter represents growth of 13% year over year. That would be Amazon’s slowest growth rate in 20 years, even with the pandemic picking back up and possibly driving more sales online.
stock, though it is 0.4% up premarket on Tuesday morning.
One reason for Mr. Bezos’s rocket ride is the more earthly goal of winning government contracts for the kind of less thrilling scientific projects the provide reliable revenue. His Blue Origin company is playing catch-up with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
is getting a bit of a boost Tuesday morning ahead of the open, rising 1% premarket. It is also gaining more attention on the message boards among day traders, according to Topstonks.com. The company reports earnings next Monday and tends to see its stock rise in the days ahead as investors start hoping for exciting announcements.
In the wider markets, U.S. stock futures are trending higher ahead of the open following Monday’s broad selloff. S&P 500 futures are up 0.5%, while Dow futures are up 0.6%. Nasdaq-100 futures are up 0.4%
Nasdaq the company, not the index, is itself rising premarket, up 1%, after The Wall Street Journal’s exclusive that it will spin out its Private Market for shares in start-ups that trade among some investors before an initial public offering. The business will go into a standalone joint venture company and get investment from three Wall Street banks and SVB Financial Group, a tech specialist bank.
is up 0.8% on large volumes following a 15% rise Monday. The shares are up nearly 80% over the past year, putting the chip maker into the top 10 list of U.S. public companies. It also executed its four-for-one stock split overnight, which has given some investors more ways to trade the stock-performance.
is up 3.4% ahead of the open on Tuesday after turning in decent second-quarter numbers Monday after the close. The computing group’s efforts to refocus on cloud-based computing and spin off its old-fashioned IT services business is winning fans among investors. At the same time, it has benefitted from companies beginning to invest again as the economy reopens.
is rising up the chat charts on social media platforms, according to Topstonks.com, gaining popularity among retail traders. Its shares are up 0.7% premarket on good volumes following a 0.8% rise Monday.
Growing chatter and chunky volumes Tuesday morning for another perennial retail favourite:
It is a far cry from last year, when the so-called FAANG stocks took a commanding role in a market driven by the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, as the economy strengthens and vaccinations diminish the pandemic in the U.S., that synchronized march has broken down. Investors have broadened their sights beyond the familiar names whose technology businesses thrived as many Americans switched to working, shopping and socializing at home. With a re-energized economy creating opportunity across industries, money managers have options, as well as renewed scrutiny for stocks whose lofty valuations and widespread popularity could limit further upside.
While Alphabet Class A and Facebook shares are up 37% and 21%, respectively, other members of the group have weighed on the market. Amazon shares are up 7.1% in 2021, lagging behind the 11% rise in the benchmark S&P 500. Apple and Netflix have fared even worse, down 1.7% and 7.4% for the year.
Among the hundreds of S&P 500 stocks outpacing Apple—the U.S. benchmark’s largest company by market value—are many that were hit hard by the pandemic. Cruise company
With a healthier economy improving prospects for many stocks, investors have less reason to snap up ones that look expensive. That is particularly the case as a spurt of inflation focuses investors on the question of when the Federal Reserve will begin lifting interest rates from current, rock-bottom levels.
Fed officials last Wednesday indicated they anticipate raising rates by late 2023, sooner than previously expected. When rates rise, commonly used models show the far-off cash flows factored into many technology stock’s price tags are less valuable.
In recent months, investors haven’t been willing to pay as much for the profits of some of the megacap tech names with the richest valuations. Analyst estimates for Amazon’s per-share profit over the ensuing 12 months rose more than 40% from the end of December through last week, according to FactSet. But since Amazon’s share price rose only 7.1%, the stock’s forward price/earnings multiple contracted from nearly 73 times to about 55 times.
In the case of Netflix, expectations for forward earnings have risen while its share price has fallen. That has compressed the stock’s price/earnings ratio from almost 60 at the end of 2020 to about 43 last week.
Apple has seen its valuation fall since the start of the year, as projected earnings increased while its share price is nearly unchanged. It traded last week at about 25 times expected earnings—down from more than 32 times on Dec. 31.
After owning Apple shares for years,
chief investment officer of wealth-management firm The Bahnsen Group, said he sold them late last year because he thought they were too rich.
For much of 2020, a badly constricted economy pushed investors toward stocks—like the FAANG names—whose businesses were less affected and whose future growth became even more alluring with the drop in interest rates. The Russell 1000 Growth Index advanced 37% for the year, while the Russell 1000 Value Index eked out a 0.1% gain—the largest annual performance gap between the two style benchmarks in FactSet data going back to 1979.
Big tech stocks were among the leaders of that rally. Apple shares climbed 81% in 2020—last August becoming the first U.S. public company to surpass $2 trillion in market value—while Amazon rose 76% and Netflix gained 67%. Facebook added 33% for the year, and Alphabet 31%.
“Philosophically if you’re buying those very large-cap stocks—let’s say a trillion dollars and above—you’re doing so not because you think you’ve found some undiscovered gem,” said
who manages the Firsthand Technology Opportunities Fund. “You’re doing it more as an expression of a tech thesis, that people are going to be rotating to tech.”
That rotation began to unwind in November with news that a Covid-19 vaccine was emerging. Value stocks, which trade at low multiples of book value and tend to be more sensitive to the health of the economy, began a monthslong rally. In March, value stocks were beating growth stocks by the widest margin in two decades, although the gains have eroded recently.
Among big tech stocks, Alphabet and Facebook have served as a kind of reopening play, reporting a surge in advertising. Facebook’s profit in its latest quarter nearly doubled from a year earlier, while Alphabet’s earnings more than doubled.
“They’ve had this huge resurgence in online advertising and that’s really been driving the stocks,” said
senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Co. “All these businesses are reopening, coming back on, the economy’s accelerating. Where do they go to promote themselves? A lot of them go to Facebook.”
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Netflix, by contrast, disappointed investors when it reported that its subscriber growth had slowed as the economy reopened. The streaming giant got a boost from the pandemic as many consumers were forced or chose to stay home, and it ended 2020 with more than 200 million subscribers.
Those fundamentals matter more now for investors, who seem less inclined to view the market in the same broad terms as they did last year.
“These just are different companies that for a long time were highly correlated because they were popular, they were performing well,” Mr. Bahnsen said. “There really was never an investment logic to a streaming company that was first to market trading in tandem with a social media company.”
: Since going public in September, the provider of cloud-based data analytics tools has managed an epic valuation. Even with a 13% drop since the start of the year, Snowflake trades at around 57 times forward sales—the richest multiple in the richly valued cloud sector. At the stock’s peak in December, Snowflake commanded a market value of just over $110 billion. That was on par with
an admittedly struggling tech giant still generating more than 100 times Snowflake’s annual revenue.
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Investors therefore clearly expect that Snowflake can scale up significantly in the coming years. And years it will take, even with the triple-digit growth the company has been managing so far. Hence, Snowflake used its first analyst meeting on Thursday to give a very long-term view. The company projects it will hit $10 billion in product revenue in its 2029 fiscal year. That will require averaging a little over 40% growth annually over the next eight fiscal years, which
of Canaccord says would make Snowflake “the fastest ever software company to reach that level of scale.”
It also was already baked into the numbers. The few analysts willing to project that far had already reached a consensus of $10.9 billion in product revenue for fiscal 2029, according to Visible Alpha. The company’s projection of reaching operating margins of only about 10% on an adjusted basis by that time also was deemed a bit of a letdown—though some analysts believe the company was likely being overly conservative. Snowflake’s share price still slipped more than 3% Friday, though it gained back some of that ground Monday morning.
Few disagree that Snowflake has a large opportunity ahead. The company’s data-warehousing software is in hot demand by enterprises looking to speed up their business analytics abilities. And the fact that it works across all the major cloud platforms helps in a world where more companies are electing not to go all in on just one.
Still, Snowflake has less visibility into its future results than many other cloud software providers. The company generates revenue as customers use its service, as opposed to subscriptions that are collected up front. But no analyst seems to think Snowflake will have trouble hitting its long-term goal.
Azure were both generating 70% growth rates when at the $10 billion a year mark. If Snowflake manages that, those paying up for the shares now will be getting a bargain. They just need patience to find out.
fiscal first-quarter results reported Wednesday afternoon were encouraging in many respects. Revenue grew for the first time in three years, surging 25% year over year to almost $1.3 billion for the quarter ended May 1. That came thanks mostly to strong sales of the new PlayStation and Xbox consoles that—while still sharply limited in supply due to the global chip production shortage—drove a 37% increase in GameStop’s hardware sales to about $704 million for the quarter. The company has also been able to boost its cash reserves and reduce its debt, due to selling nearly $552 million of its shares during the quarter.
GameStop seems to have discovered that individual investor love isn’t a blank check. The company said Wednesday it intends to file papers to sell up to five million shares, after selling 3.5 million shares in April.
GameStop’s stock price slid as much as 12% after hours Wednesday following the company’s results and a truncated conference call that again took no questions. AMC’s stock has fallen 21% since it announced its latest stock sale last week.
But even with such a sharp after-hours drop, GameStop’s shares remain up an absurd 1,300% from the start of the year. Which means the company will need all the help it can get to justify investors’ bets that it can renovate a videogame retail chain for an age when most games are sold digitally. The latest results also laid out starkly what a challenge that will be.
Game software, once GameStop’s largest business, fell 5% year over year during the quarter to about $398 million. This wasn’t an industrywide problem; NPD’s data shows that sales of videogame content across digital and physical channels in the U.S. rose 14% during the comparable three-month period ending in April.
Strong demand for gaming products such as the newest consoles are keeping GameStop in the game for now. But the company’s long-term revival can’t depend on machines that are updated once every seven or eight years. And GameStop is still in the staffing-up phase of whatever its plan is. The company formally installed Chewy co-founder
to the chairman slot following a successful shareholder vote on Wednesday. It also names a new chief executive and chief financial officer—both from executive roles at
Mr. Cohen told shareholders Wednesday that GameStop’s turnaround will take time. He also said the company was trying to do something in retail that no one else has done before. GameStop investors seem inclined to give the company time—but not at any price.
Anchorage is among a group of hedge funds that has been waiting a decade or more for a sale or public offering of the studio on the strength of its content library. They were rewarded with the deal by Amazon to buy MGM for about $8.5 billion, including about $2 billion in debt.
New York hedge fund Anchorage began telling investors about its paper profit Wednesday. Anchorage invested less than $500 million in 2010, making for an IRR, a return metric that takes into account the length of an investment, of about 16%.
The deal took the return of Anchorage’s flagship hedge fund from 8% to 18% this year, said a person briefed on Anchorage’s performance. Anchorage co-founder
chairs MGM’s board and had been negotiating with Amazon.
The $6.5 billion equity value of the deal is around what MGM’s then-chief executive,
in early deal talks for the studio in 2018. Those talks were cut short when MGM’s board ousted Mr. Barber for having the unsanctioned talks. Some MGM shareholders said Wednesday it was possible those talks could have resulted in a similar deal, years earlier, had they continued.
Still, longtime MGM investors on Wednesday, and even newer shareholders, can claim strong returns on the deal if they realize their profits.
initially thrilled the investors of both companies. Discovery’s share price opened the day up 10% on the prospect of the niche cable-content provider suddenly becoming one of the largest Hollywood players. Meanwhile, AT&T’s share price jumped nearly 4% on the notion that the telecommunications giant could focus better on its core business without having to also pour capital into a media venture that was never popular with its own investors anyway.
The warm feelings didn’t last. Both stocks soon turned south and closed in the red that day. And Discovery kept falling—losing nearly 12% by the end of the week. The potential merits of the deal haven’t changed, but the risks have grown clearer. The complicated transaction will result in a much bigger and much more indebted Discovery, run by its current management but majority owned by AT&T shareholders. And the combined company faces a rapidly changing media landscape with a growing list of competitors. For example, last week brought several reports that
Discovery’s stock had already been on a wild ride due to its part in the Archegos Capital selloff earlier this year. The pending merger will add some fresh drama. Both Discovery and AT&T have to preserve the value of the WarnerMedia business during a highly uncertain period while awaiting regulatory approvals, which could take a year or more. The New York Times reported that WarnerMedia Chief Executive Officer Jason Kilar already has hired a legal team to negotiate his departure.
of Cowen noted in a report last week that Twentieth Century Fox saw “pretty serious degradation in performance” while Disney was working to complete its acquisition of the studio in 2019. “We’re not sure that the announcement of $3B in synergies will be well-received by WarnerMedia employees, either, particularly having just survived a synergy-driven purge associated with the AT&T acquisition,” he wrote.
How to integrate the two operations is also a major question hanging over the deal. As the home for the old Warner Bros. studio along with HBO and the Turner media properties, WarnerMedia specializes in broad offerings designed for mass appeal. Discovery has made its name with more niche offerings such as Animal Planet, TLC and the recently acquired Food Network and HGTV. An investor poll by Bernstein Research found a large split on whether the company should combine the HBO Max and Discovery+ services into one offering. Investors in the poll were also the “least confident” in the combined company’s ability to achieve the stated goal of $15 billion in direct-to-consumer revenue by 2023.
The first word on what Wall Street is talking about.
In a note to clients Monday, MoffettNathanson analysts wrote that Discovery has “a nice call option on transforming HBO Max into a global juggernaut that trades at a deep discount to Netflix and Disney.” But the firm still downgraded the stock to a “neutral“ rating, noting that the reward was “outweighed by near-term risks ahead of the deal closing.”
Discovery’s most hair-raising reality show might be the one the company has now cast itself in.
raised its base pay to $15 an hour in 2019, though a spokeswoman said its average for hourly U.S. workers is $23.89.
In March 2020, Bank of America raised its minimum hourly wage to $20, a year ahead of plan, after boosting it to $17 an hour in 2019. The bank said it has more than doubled its minimum hourly pay since 2010.
President Biden campaigned on a pledge to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, but a February push by Democrats to include the increase in the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package was unsuccessful.
Mr. Biden in late April signed an executive order requiring that federal contractors pay a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
Monday morning begins the process of unwinding Ma Bell’s expensive foray into the world of big media. Under the terms announced, AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit will combine with Discovery to create a new stand-alone media titan expected to generate annual revenue of about $52 billion by 2023. It also will create a more focused—and less indebted—AT&T. Net debt is expected to fall by $43 billion once the deal closes sometime in mid-2022.
Much of those borrowings came from the company’s $81 billion acquisition of Time Warner, which closed barely three years ago. The relatively abrupt about-face can be chalked up to a rapidly changing media landscape in which investors have heavily incentivized Hollywood’s content giants to pour capital into streaming. That created some unique pressures for AT&T, which also has a capital intensive wireless and fiber optic business to run along with a generous dividend to maintain. Investors never warmed to the company’s big media aspirations; AT&T’s stock has badly trailed the broader market since the company announced the Time Warner deal in late 2016. The shares rose 2% Monday morning.
Discovery, meanwhile, has earned some kudos on Wall Street for its efforts to build a more focused streaming offering. Discovery+ launched in the U.S. in January, and
of MoffettNathanson estimates the service is already on pace to reach 11 million domestic subscribers by the end of the year. Still—at just under $11 billion in trailing 12-month revenue—Discovery ranks below many other media outlets in scale, including
The move isn’t quite a cash out for AT&T. Citigroup analysts noted Monday that the structure of the deal as a tax-free spin limits the amount of cash and deleveraging for AT&T, which said Monday it has “resized” its annual dividend payout ratio to about 40% to 43% of anticipated free cash flow, down from its last-stated goal of a little over 50% of free cash flow. AT&T adds that it will reach its target ratio of 2.5 times net debt to adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization by the end of 2023—a year earlier than planned.
The move should still create a cleaner story for AT&T going forward. The company was never going to land the sort of multiples investors have lavished on other media giants diving head first into streaming. And its pressing need to invest in expensive technology like 5G to keep its network business competitive made this a bad time to also keep up with the billions being poured into new streaming content by everyone from Disney to
ARK Investment Management LLC is bearing the brunt of the stock market’s faltering technology trade, again.
Ms. Wood was crowned a star stock picker last year thanks to her exchange-traded funds’ hefty exposure to many of the coronavirus pandemic’s work-from-home winners. But her funds have sunk further than the broader market during May’s selloff in shares of technology and other fast-growing companies, suggesting their midwinter pullback was no fluke.
Her flagship innovation fund has fallen 13% in the first eight trading sessions of May. That is more than what the ETF shed in February and March when worries about a sharp rise in bond yields began to dent the allure of growth stocks. Shares of the fund are now down roughly a third from their mid-February high after more than doubling last year.
The Nasdaq Composite, in comparison, has stumbled 5% in May and set a record as recently as April 26, while the S&P 500 is off 1.2% and continues to hover near its record highs.
Many of the stocks that sit in ARK’s funds are unprofitable tech and biotech companies whose lofty valuations are tied to bets that they will one day dominate their industries. Those stocks have stumbled lately on worries about rising inflation and an eventual tightening of monetary policy. The latest sign of inflation came Wednesday when the Labor Department said its consumer-price index jumped 4.2% in April from a year earlier, the highest 12-month level since the summer of 2008.
Analysts and money managers also say there are rampant concerns over the rich valuations of companies that boomed during the pandemic but whose growth now appears unsustainable as the economy moves closer to a full reopening.
“You have a pretty clear trend of the frothiest and costliest corners of the market needing to be repriced,” said
chief investment officer of the Bahnsen Group, a $2.8 billion money-management firm. “And the darlings of 2020 have a ways to go.”
Several of those darlings litter ARK’s funds and have given up a chunk of the large gains they racked up last year.
—have suffered declines of about 4.3% to 7.8% this month.
The tech behemoths reported blowout earnings for the latest quarter, but many investors say the economic winds have shifted away from the group. For starters, the economy is getting back on firmer footing as more Americans get vaccinated and businesses fully reopen, creating a more conducive environment for a wider variety of stocks to run.
“The quick money is gone,” said
head of asset allocation at Pacific Life Fund Advisors, which manages $32 billion in assets, of the tech trade. “When growth is abundant in an economy, that’s when lower growth stocks, such as value, do better because you don’t need to pay a premium for growth.”
Mr. Gokhman said Pacific Life’s funds remain tilted toward value stocks, such as regional banks, energy firms and consumer staples that trade at low multiples of their book value, or net worth.
Investors said any chatter about a potential rate increase puts tech stocks on unstable footing, especially after last year’s gangbusters performance. That is because interest rates are a significant variable in often-used valuation models that discount cash flow. Higher rates, under those models, diminish the value of future cash flows, lowering the ceiling on valuation projections.
“The outperformance in megacap tech stocks has likely run its course,” said
a senior vice president at UBS Private Wealth Management. “We believe the next leg of the equity rally will be driven by value stocks, and small and midcap segments of the market.”
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The latest downdraft has cut valuation multiples in half for some of the pandemic’s biggest winners. Tesla shares now trade at 121 times future earnings, down from nearly 220 earlier this year, according to FactSet. Online marketplace
whose shares quadrupled last year, trades at 51 times earnings versus more than 100 times in January. Its shares have fallen 17% this month.
Both stocks remain relatively pricey. The S&P 500’s consumer discretionary sector, where the stocks reside, trades at 36 times earnings, while tech is at 25. The S&P 500 stands at 21 times earnings, above its five-year average of 18.
The tech sector’s repricing has shaken billions of dollars out of growth and tech funds, including those run by Ms. Wood. Investors have pulled $1.6 billion from the ARK’s ETFs over the past month, with nearly $600 million coming out of the innovation fund, according to FactSet. That’s on top of about $7 billion investors have pulled from other U.S. growth and tech funds so far this year. Over the same period, more than $30 billion has flowed into U.S. value funds.
Ms. Wood has repeatedly brushed off worries about the losses and outflows, saying the firm invests in stocks for at least five years, and nothing has changed other than their cheaper price tags. In fact, ARK has taken advantage of the selloff to add to its positions in some beaten-down stocks such as
“Many consider what has happened in the last three months to be the beginning of another, or the equivalent of the tech and telecom bust,” Ms. Wood said in a Tuesday webinar. “We do not believe that’s the case in the least. The kinds of growth that we’re going to see coming out of these technologies, we believe, the kind of growth is going to be astonishing.”
Other investors have followed Ms. Wood’s lead—they stepped in to buy the dip in tech stocks Tuesday, helping the Nasdaq erase nearly all of a 2.2% intraday decline by the end of the session. ARK, in this case, tracked the market, with its innovation ETF closing up 2.1%.
But the tug of war in the stock market will likely continue, with several money managers saying they have no intention of leaning back into the tech trade soon.
“I don’t think there’s any place in the tech space where there will be easy growth or cheap growth,” said Mr. Bahnsen. “I believe we’re living in an era that favors cash-flow generating companies.”