With so much fanfare in the global and digital markets last year, many folks looked forward to even greater things in 2022. Frankly, it wasn’t a completely unreasonable expectation. As the coronavirus pandemic faded in the fear that it originally produced, society seemed poised to welcome the old normal. However, those plans are currently hitting a snag, with the damage most evident in tech stocks.
While the three major U.S. equity indices pinged strong results for the final Friday of January, 2022 has gotten to a rocky start. For instance, the benchmark S&P 500 index is down nearly 6% since the new year opener. However, the Nasdaq, which of course features some of the most groundbreaking tech stocks, was down a hair over 13% during the same time period.
The obvious culprit is the Federal Reserve. Throughout the governmental response to Covid-19, the Fed has arguably been instrumental in keeping the economy afloat, backstopping the pain through actions that lowered interest rates to dramatic lows. Logically, this bolstered confidence in risk-on assets, especially tech stocks to buy. However, the central bank is now signaling an aggressive shift in the opposite direction, thus disincentivizing growth-centric investments.
But that’s not the only problem facing tech stocks. As you know, tensions in eastern Europe are rising, with Russia seemingly on the cusp of invading Ukraine. If that happens, it may constitute an armed conflict to the magnitude never before seen in the region since World War II. Worse yet, the U.S. may need to match Russia move for move to maintain credibility in the face of a resurgent China.
Indeed, China’s ambassador to the U.S. recently issued a warning that America’s general support of Taiwanese independence could result in a “military conflict” between the two biggest economic powers. Obviously, that can’t happen and cooler heads may yet prevail. If so, these beaten-up tech stocks may be on a serious discount.
- Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU)
- Block (NYSE:SQ)
- PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL)
- Twilio (NYSE:TWLO)
- Salesforce (NYSE:CRM)
- Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX)
- Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ:ZM)
Although the red ink may act as a crimson-stained flag for a raging bull, you don’t necessarily want to catch a falling knife. Sure, several tech stocks are bloodied and bruised but don’t automatically assume they will go up. Always practice due diligence and consider keeping the powder keg dry for additional opportunities.
Tech Stocks: Micron Technology (MU)
Personally, I find the concept of the metaverse, or the next generation of connectivity platforms incredibly bizarre. Sure, on paper, it doesn’t seem that crazy. If you look at the internet, its progress represents an evolution into greater access and communication. Through the latest innovations like virtual and augmented reality, we can connect “ourselves” into the internet, facilitating a range of new experiences and applications.
Cool. I’m just more of a “if you want to meet up with someone, do so in person” type. But to each their own. Admittedly, I might be in the minority when it comes to my thoughts on the metaverse. Both big corporations and individual users can’t get enough, which is why Micron Technology may be among the best tech stocks to advantage this phenomenon.
As a manufacturer of semiconductor products, Micron is incredibly relevant. Indeed, before we were talking about Covid-19, Micron was at or near the center of the U.S.-China trade war. Today, its products have never been more in demand.
But if the metaverse pans out, you might regret not including MU in your list of tech stocks to buy. With metaverse-related hardware requiring the latest and greatest in memory chips, you can have your cake and eat it too via Micron.
Prior to the pandemic, Block, which went by its more commonly known name Square, represented one of the most intriguing tech stocks to buy. A provider of credit-card payment readers and various administrative and accounting platforms for small businesses, Block helped level the playing field between startups and their larger rivals.
Once Covid-19 became an everyday reality, Block became even more relevant, facilitating cashless or contactless payments. Although I’m not entirely aware of comprehensive research conducted on coronavirus transmissibility via physical currency, the fear was enough to favor companies like Block. In addition, the convenience of cashless transactions such as tap and go may mean such platforms are here to stay.
You’d expect that to be a positive for SQ stock. However, shares are down nearly 25% YTD, a shocking result for a once-crowd favorite. Also, in the trailing six-month period, SQ plummeted almost 45%. Basically, the underlying company has given up most of its post-Covid gains.
Admittedly, the fallout isn’t completely unjustified, with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) pivoting to turn iPhones into payment terminals. Still, Block has a strong brand presence in the small business and e-commerce space that it would be difficult for a competitor — even one the size of Apple — to upend.
Tech Stocks: PayPal (PYPL)
Among the most powerful tech stocks tied to the digital payments space, PayPal organically increased the scope of its relevance due to the pandemic. With a record number of people turning to e-commerce due to the global health crisis, PayPal saw a dramatic increase in valuation, with PYPL stock on multiple occasions closing above the $300 level.
However, that performance didn’t exempt PYPL from the selloff that has grievously affected other tech stocks. Since the January opener, shares are down 11%, while in the trailing half-year period, they’ve plunged over 28%. Similar to what we’ve seen in the sector’s top players, the issuing company has given up the lion’s share of its post-Covid rally.
If I’m being completely honest, I’m not a big fan of its technical posture. Due to relatively weak responses against a torrential wave of sell orders, there’s a mass psychological risk that PYPL could fall further, giving up all of its Covid gains and then some. So, I’d tiptoe into this discount if I’m a contrarian.
Nevertheless, I do like the way the pandemic has enhanced the legitimacy of the gig economy. If this trend continues to progress, PYPL could soon be an excellent long-term discount.
As you’re seeing by now, the theme for tech stocks in January is unmitigated destruction. Unfortunately, I can’t provide a different narrative for Twilio. Shares of the cloud-communications platform as a service provider are down over 20% YTD. Over the trailing six months, TWLO has sunk 45% of market value, which of course is simply brutal.
Unlike some other beaten-up equities, however, Twilio doesn’t just see the Federal Reserve as a headwind. Don’t get me wrong — a hawkish policy shift is nowhere near ideal for TWLO, which doesn’t pay a dividend. Further, the signals that I’m getting from mainstream media reports about the conflict in eastern Europe are downright upsetting.
But for TWLO, the cryptocurrency fallout is another massive headache. In addition to the communication APIs, Twilio provides two-factor authentication (2FA) services. Bluntly, Twilio’s Authy service is superior to the competing Google authenticator because it allows for multi-device syncing and cloud backups. It just adds another layer of confidence for crypto application security protocols.
However, the brutal selloff in digital assets is tanking related investments, which is why I’m not surprised with TWLO’s meltdown. Yet over the long run, cryptos could reign once again, making TWLO an intriguing contrarian idea among tech stocks.
Tech Stocks: Salesforce (CRM)
Performance wise, Salesforce doesn’t have the worst print relative to competing tech stocks. Since the first session close of the new year, CRM is down 10%. On a trailing six-month basis, the loss isn’t too bad given the circumstances, down 4%. Personally, I’d like to see if CRM stabilizes at its present support line. If so, it could be an interesting long-term idea.
To be fair, the correction from its all-time high isn’t entirely unjustified. Of course, you have the Federal Reserve wrestling with soaring consumer prices, which to some might be interpreted as an event inevitably leading to aggressive tightening of the money supply. Because Salesforce.com doesn’t pay a dividend, investors aren’t going to find CRM as attractive as a stable, dividend-bearing company.
In addition, UBS analysts in early January downgraded CRM, in part due to slowing business software growth. However, it’s also important to point out that the customer relationship management market was valued at $41.93 billion in 2019, yet experts project it could hit $96.39 billion by 2027, representing a compound annual growth rate of 11.1% from 2020 to 2027.
That’s really the number contrarians will be focusing on as they ponder the discount for CRM stock.
One of the most celebrated companies during the new normal, Netflix was already on a tear, devastating linear TV subscription providers with on-demand entertainment. Even more threatening to the traditionalists, the content library kept expanding, with compelling original series you couldn’t find anywhere else. Then Covid-19 happened, presenting a devastating bull cash for NFLX.
You’ll recall that when multiple jurisdictions shut down non-essential businesses, both individual consumers and owners in the sports bars and restaurants industry began cutting the cord en masse. Even worse, it wasn’t just about scaling back on expenses; rather, professional sports leagues temporarily canceled their seasons, thus eliminating a key incentive for linear TV.
It was all too easy for Netflix. But then, the company may have become a victim of its own success when the latest financial disclosure revealed weaker-than-expected subscriber numbers. This contributed to a devastating loss of almost 28% YTD. Startlingly, at a time-of-writing, NFLX is close to parity with its price just before the pandemic struck.
To buy or not to buy? NFLX is certainly one of the most agonizing tech stocks because it could fall further still. However, the content library is such that investors ought to think about nibbling at the discount. It’s not like people are rushing to linear TV anytime soon.
Tech Stocks: Zoom Video Communications (ZM)
Perhaps no other company defined the new normal quite like Zoom Video Communications. Indeed, the brand itself has become part of the parlance of popular culture. Just like people don’t say “search it on the internet” — rather, Google it — it’s the same situation with Zoom. People talk about Zooming each other, even if they’re not on Zoom.
But that’s also a contributing factor to the 17% YTD loss for ZM stock. In essence, competition from other big players such as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has made the task of justifying Zoom’s rich premium incredibly difficult. But that’s hardly the worst of it. Over the trailing six months, ZM has hemorrhaged nearly 60% of its value, making it one of the ugliest tech stocks.
Still, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For contrarians, nothing could be more attractive than a powerful company suffering from the throes of market panic. Should the Covid-19 crisis continue — the latest variant is apparently 1.5-times more contagious than omicron — then Zoom’s relevance may rise again.
Ultimately, it may come down to a fist fight between Zoom and Microsoft. The former has the brand awareness down but the latter is Microsoft. If you’re the gambling type, you might want to nibble a bit on this discount. However, I personally will be staying away.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.