On Feb. 1, Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) shocked the Street by announcing a 20-for-1 stock split. The initial reaction was one of praise and excitement. The reduction in share price will bring GOOG stock into the acceptable price range for eventual inclusion into the prestigious Dow Jones Industrial Average. Investors rewarded the king of search with a monster overnight gain.
Shares jumped nearly $300 to a record high. It looked as if the stock was kickstarting a new advance for a moment. But we’ve seen nothing but selling ever since.
The gap gains are gone, and GOOG stock is sinking like a stone. What gives?
Here’s the short answer. Growth stocks, of which the technology sector is the epicenter, are out of favor. Rising rates are causing investors to re-think just how much they’re willing to pay for future earnings. And even though Alphabet is printing plenty of dough now, it’s still getting repriced.
With that said, let’s take a deeper look at what’s going on with GOOG stock today.
GOOG Stock: Context Matters
Although GOOG stock is suffering guilt by association, let’s put the drawdown in context. It’s holding up way better than the underbelly of the growth space.
With Thursday’s whack, prices are now almost 13% off the highs. By comparison, the Ark Innovation ETF (NYSEARCA:ARKK) is 65% off its highs.
ARKK is full of high-growth companies that boasted richly priced shares with sky-high multiples. That makes it an excellent benchmark to track. Its holdings are among the most vulnerable of growth stocks, and sadly, many have been utterly destroyed this earnings season. The latest victims are Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) and DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG), which crashed 27% and 20%, respectively, on Friday after disappointing the Street with their latest quarterly numbers.
And that’s just the loss over the last 24 hours: The drawdown from the peak is horrific.
Here’s the point. Alphabet’s correction looks bad in a vacuum, particularly after such a rousing earnings report of its own. But when you understand the market backdrop and how much damage is being inflicted elsewhere, GOOG stock should be celebrated for only dropping 13%.
The other vehicle worth comparing to Google is the Technology Sector ETF (NYSEARCA:XLK). It’s in a downtrend below all major moving averages. But here’s the key stat. The fund is down 13.7%, which is about 1% worse than GOOG. If a stock tumbles while its sector is flying high, it’s one thing. It’s quite another when the company follows its sector into the abyss but falls less.
GOOG Stock Chart
While bulls will contend Alphabet is a more attractive buy than its sector and most other growth stocks, there’s no denying its price chart has been damaged. The past three weeks of selling have pulled prices below the 50-day, 20-day and 200-day moving averages. We’re now a stone’s throw from the next support zone of $2,600. If we break that, $2,500 comes into play.
Rather than trying to catch a falling knife, I suggest waiting for evidence that the trend is reversing higher first. At a minimum, GOOG needs to break above its prior pivot high ($2,759) to reverse the series of lower highs and lows. Unfortunately, growth stocks are stuck in sell the rally mode, and until that changes, it’s going to be hard to make money on the long side.
While I could pitch a bear trade, the reality is there are far better ideas than Alphabet. Why short one of the few growth stocks that is outperforming and has a fortress of a balance sheet?
On the date of publication, Tyler Craig 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.
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