Only if you were living on a small desert island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no Internet connection did you miss the horrific selloff in technology stocks since the presidential election.
I knew they would become target number one by an incoming Trump administration.
When tech shares briefly rallied on the morning of November 9th, I couldn’t believe my good luck, and dumped everything I owned. They cratered shortly afterwards.
The wreckage has been widespread.
Apple (AAPL) performed an 11.86% swan dive off its October high. Alphabet (GOOG) pared back 10.67%. Facebook (FB) shed 15.03%. Amazon (AMZN) puked an astounding 16.35%.
Is technology dead? I don’t think so, but to find out why not, you must read on.
President-elect Trump certainly made no secret of his displeasure with the tech sector, attacking several specifically by name.
He said he would demand that Apple manufacture its iPhones in the US which would force it to raise prices fivefold. If iPhone production stays in China, it would be subject to Trump’s 45% import duty.
He specified that Amazon, which accounted for 25% of the growth in retail sales this year, would have antitrust problems.
Facebook now finds itself squarely in the middle of the “fake news” scandal which the Trump campaign so adeptly mastered.
More than any other sector of the US economy, technology was a beneficiary of the globalized economy.
Many companies obtain more than half of their earnings from abroad. Apple intends to obtain a significant portion of its future sales from China.
There is now a great black cloud hanging over these expectations, especially if there is a trade war with the Middle Kingdom.
We now have the greatest anti-globalization president of all time.
It gets worse.
Promises of massive deficit financed domestic spending have sent US interest rates soaring and the dollar along with it.
That immediately diminishes the value of technology’s foreign earnings when translated back to the greenback.
There is also the ATM effect. Investors are realizing long-term capital gains in their technology positions in order to finance purchases of what I call the “New World Order” stocks in the beaten down sectors of financials, commodities, health care, construction and defense.
This has been exacerbated by the fact that every portfolio and hedge fund manger expected a Clinton win and were positioned to profit from it.
That left them overweight technology in a Trump world.
Indeed, I had friends loading up on Facebook the day before the election, expecting it to take off like a rocket the moment the results were out.
It will take months, if not years, for large funds to reallocate their positions to reflect the new era.
And let’s face reality here. Technology CEOs were, to a man, Clinton supporters. No overnights in the Lincoln bedroom here!
However, I don’t believe that it is the end of the world for technology companies. Armageddon it is not.
For a start, as the most profitable companies in America, they stand to become major beneficiaries of the cut in the corporate tax rate to 25%.
Furthermore, they are the largest owners of the $2 trillion in profits stashed abroad. Any kind of tax holiday on repatriation would enable them to bring these funds home at last.
And what will tech companies do with the better part of $2 trillion in cash? They don’t need the money, as they are massive cash flow generators.
My bet is they use it to buy back their own stock. I have already seen one report expecting an increase in company share buy backs of 30% in 2017. This is on top of existing gigantic share repurchase plans.
This virtually assures that any further draw downs in tech share prices from here on will be limited, and will be used as buying opportunities by the companies themselves.
And here is the most important reason of all.
There is a hyper acceleration going on which will lead to the intertwining of maybe two dozen different advanced technologies.
This will lead to a renaissance of the technology industry, a new Golden Age for America, and a second Roaring Twenties for the stock market.
Dump your technology stocks here, and you may be forced to buy them back ten times higher in a decade.
Here’s another prediction. No matter who is in power in a decade, I bet they’ll take credit for this revolution, even if they had nothing to do with it.
The basic fact here is that even a Trump driven economy needs iPhones, software, and connectivity.
They may not earn as much as before, but the companies that provide these products and services are still looking at rivers of profits going forward.
The final outcome of the 2016 election may not be a political one, but an investment one.
We will get a chance to buy the best quality earnings stream on the planet at earnings multiples not seen since the 2008 crash. They have already given back 15% in valuations. The haircut could reach 30% before the carnage ends.
This is why I have been telling readers to unload technology for the short term, but to keep them for the long term, especially if they are held by tax advantaged retirement plans like IRAs and 401ks.
And while the outlook may be bleak now, it could appear dramatically better in four years.
This is a sector that ALWAYS comes back.