In 2013, the television host of CNBC's Mad Money, Mr Jim Cramer addressed few stocks as “totally dominant in their markets”. He was referring to tech titans and named them FAANG stocks (where the extra “A” was added 5 years later, in 2017).
What Are FAANG Stocks?
“FAANG” is perhaps one of the most popular abbreviation of the business world. The acronym illustrates stocks of the famous five US-based technology corporations- first being social media giant Facebook Inc., followed by software and hardware developer Apple Inc., the e-commerce magnate Amazon.com Inc., and the streaming service provider Netflix Inc., along with the last FAANG member, internet ace Alphabet Inc. (formerly recognised as Google).
Originally, the acronym was FANG (with an “A” for Amazon.). In 2017, investors included Apple in the group, turning the acronym into FAANG. There is an interesting fact here- The original four FANG stocks were pure internet-based companies, but the later inclusion of Apple, that is a consumer hardware manufacturer, made FAANG stocks a broader group of giant technology stocks.
Widely renowned among consumers, unique in their products and services, these stocks are of few of the largest companies in the world. They trade on the NASDAQ Exchange and are included in the S&P 500 Index, making up approximately 15 per cent of the index. Market experts believe that since these stocks have a large influence on the index, they tend to have a substantial effect on the performance of the S&P 500, in general.
Why Are FAANG Stocks Popular?
Consider this- Facebook rules social networking, Amazon is the one-stop destination to buy goods online in today’s digital world; Apple’s iPhones are one of the most used and well-renowned gadgets globally; Netflix is considered to be a leader of online streaming; whereas Google is the search engine used comprehensively almost every day, everywhere.
Facebook’s products are valuable to new users because of its vast other active users. Amazon’s Prime service brings millions of shoppers to its marketplace every day, making its seller services more attractive to third-party merchants. Millions of Netflix viewers provide feedback for the kind of content the company should invest in. Lock-in effect of the Apple ecosystem creates substantial switching costs for iOS users.
This opens doors to the possibility of producing higher levels of profitability than rival companies. Consider this- Facebook, Amazon, and Google have troves of user data to pursue advertisements. Netflix offers original content, exclusive licenses that make its content library unique. Apple, on the other hand, is one of the few technology companies that makes hardware as well as software for its devices.
One obvious reason for the popularity of these market darlings is that each FAANG company has been known to transform not just their own industries and the markets, but also how we all live in the current contemporary lifestyles.
What is the significance of FAANG Constituents?
As the heavy weighting of FAANG stocks in indexes like the S&P 500 gives them an outsized impact on the broader stock market, it seems worthwhile for investors to learn a bit about them.
How is Investing Community Exposed to FAANG Stocks?
FAANG stocks have historically outperformed the S&P 500 index. Over the last decade, this famous group accounted for a large portion of the market’s gains and American economy growth. This seems obvious given that FAANG companies have a hoard of competitive advantages making them seem like lucrative long-term investments. Offering perhaps the hottest technology trends, FAANG stocks demonstrate strong sales and earnings growth.
Each FAANG company is listed on the NASDAQ, so purchasing their shares is a straightforward process for most investors. The easiest path could possibly be via online brokerage account with companies that offer this service. At this point, it should be noted that FAANG stocks aren’t cheap. For instance, for most of 2019, one share of Google sold for well over USD 1,000 and Amazon traded above USD 1,500.
However, a wise investor knows that past results do not guarantee future success. Sinusoidal equity market trends deserve closer attention to a lot of other aspects before making any investment decision. Therefore, investing in FAANG stocks should be vigilantly based on one’s research of fundamental and technical aspects and risk appetite.
Are There Any Risks Associated to Investing in FAANG Stocks?
Market experts believe that there are no sure plays in the investing world. Simply put, there is a risk in every aspect of investing. Though favourable market conditions and investor enthusiasm for technology seems to be here for good, global uncertainties always should be considered.
Overly bullish expectations coupled with certain political pressures and economic worries may hinder these big techs’ growth. Some experts opine that as these companies continue to mature amid mounting worldwide risks, it may get increasingly difficult for them to maintain their rapid growth pace.
Legal Regulatory, market and operational risks of these FAANG players need to be considered before taking any exposure to FAANG stocks. Amazon and Google have often come under regulatory examination for potential anti-competitive business practices. Facebook and Google have faced criticism for lack of data privacy and security. On the other hand, Netflix has encountered new competitors in streaming video and as few reports suggest, a huge debt load linked with content production.
Valuations of FAANG players should be well justified viz-a-viz earnings guidance of these players, before taking any investment exposure.
Are There Global Peers to FAANG Stocks?
Just like FAANG stocks, there are several groups of companies that can be looked upon as peers to the tech group. Let us cast an eye on similar groups-
Do You Know These Interesting Facts About FAANG Stocks?
The FAANG group has been a stock market superstar on both short and long-term basis. These stocks have more or less consistently delivered above-average sales and profit growth and maintained juicy margins. Let us look at a few interesting facts about these tech titans-
Darvas Box system Every great trader/investor in the history of the markets had a specific method to approach the markets, which eventually led them to create a good fortune, Darvas Box system is one such method. It is a trend following strategy developed by Nicholas Darvas in the 1950s to identify stocks for good upside potential. This is one of the few methods to trade the markets which uses the combination of both the technical analysis and fundamental analysis for a much more refined decision. The fundamentals were used to identify the stocks, and technical analysis was used to time the entry and exits. Who was Nicholas Darvas? Nicholas Darvas was arguably one of the greatest stock traders/investors during 1950s – 1960s, but surprisingly he was a ball dancer by profession and not a professional stock trader. Even while trading and building his fortune, he was on a world tour for his performances in many countries and took up trading as a part-time job. In November 1952 he was invited to a Toronto Nightclub for which he received an unusual proposition of getting paid in shares by the club owners. At that time, all he knew was there is something called stocks which moves up and down in value, that’s it. He accepted the offer and received 6k shares of a Canadian mining company Brilund at 60 cents per share, with the condition that if the stock falls below this price within six months, then the owners would make up the difference. This was the introduction of a professional ball dancer to the stock market. Nicholas Darvas couldn’t perform at the club, so he bought those shares as a gesture. Within two months, Brilund touched $1.9, and his initial investment of $3000 turned to $11400, netting in almost three times of his investment. This triggered a curiosity into the stock markets, and he started to explore trading. Origin of the Darvas Box theory Initially, he was trading on his broker’s recommendation, tips from wealthy businessmen, he even approached some advisory services or any source that he could get his hands on for the tips, but all led him to losses. After losing a lot of money, he decided to develop his own theory, and after a lot of trial and error, his observations and continuous refinements he eventually invented his theory “The Box Theory”. So what exactly is the Box Theory? Fundamentals Analysis As stated earlier, the box theory uses a judicious bend of both the technical and fundamentals. Darvas believed that in order to spot a good stock or even a multibagger, there should be something brewing up in the respective sector as a whole or some major fundamental change in that specific company. Generally, the fundamentals that Darvas used to study were on a broader sector level, and not the company-specific fundamentals. Even for the specific company Darvas used to look from a general perspective like, is the company launching a new product which could be a blockbuster hit. He completely refrained from looking at numbers and financial statements as his initial experiment with ratios and financial statements didn’t yield any good result. To know more on the three financial statements read: Income Statement (P&L) Balance Sheet Cash Flow Statement Technical Analysis Darvas was a big believer in price action and volume of the stock. He believed if some major fundamental changes were to take place in a company, this soon shows up in the stock price and its volume of trading as more people get interested in buying or selling the stock. With his observations here realized by just observing the price action, he can participate in the rally which gets triggered by some major fundamental development without actually knowing about the change. Using the box theory, Darvas used to scan stocks based on rising volume as he needed mass participation in the rally. Also, he only picked up those stocks that were already rising. His theory is all about “buy high, sell higher” instead of the conventional belief of “buy low, sell high”. After the stock satisfies both the parameters of increasing price and volume with major underlying fundamental change, Darvas looks to enter the stock. Good read on momentum trading. How and where to enter? Major part of the box theory is based on entry and exit levels. To enter a stock, Darvas looked for a consolidation phase preceded by a rally. A consolidation phase is the price action wherein the price moves up and down in a tight range, that is, a non-directional move. He would then mark the high and low of the consolidation phase with the horizontal line, essentially making it a box-like structure, hence the name “Box Theory”. The high point is called the ceiling, and low is called the floor. Whenever the stocks break above the ceiling, Darvas would look to buy one tick above the ceiling with one tick below floor as a stop-loss point. Pyramiding Darvas discovered early on, in order to become successful in the market your winning bets should yield much more profit than the loss in the losing bets. This led him to do pyramiding in his winning trade, which is clearly defined in the box theory. Pyramiding means to increase the existing position if the stock is going in the favour, which leads to a much higher profit in the winning trades. According to the box theory, the repetition of the entry criterion is the new signal for adding onto the existing position. In other words, after a position, if the stocks stage the same setup, that is, a consolidation after a rally, then the break above the ceiling of this new box would signal to increase position with the revised stop loss of 1 tick below the new floor. In any case, whenever the stock falls below the current floor, the entire position would we sold off at once. This is the only exit condition in the box theory, and there is no method of booking profit upfront as Darvas believed in holding on to a rising stock. The only way to book profit is to let the stock to take out the revised stop loss.
Dead Cat Bounce Dead Cat bounce is a colloquial phrase which is quite popular in the financial markets. The term was coined a long time ago and generally referred to the peculiar behaviour of the price. The phrase denotes a recovery in the asset’s price, often a sharp one after a prolonged downtrend. Sometimes it is also referred to a short but sharp fall, succeeded by an equally sharp recovery. How does a downtrend continue for a long time? Quite often, some securities in the financial markets depict a very long downtrend which may last from a few months to a few years depending on the severity of the fundamental headwinds. These prolonged downtrends are so strong that no support levels can withhold the downtrend and the prices keep on falling. Every support level gets taken out by excessive selling, which pushes the prices even lower. These lower prices force the long holders to liquidate their positions as no visible halt in the downtrend is noticed. This liquidation from existing buyers further fuels the selling, leading to the continuation of the downtrend. As the price keeps on falling, the buyers do not get enough confidence to buy and consequently keep getting overpowered by selling pressure continues the downtrend. So what is the ideology behind “Dead Cat Bounce”? In due course of a downtrend, the security tends to become oversold for the time being. Oversold is a technical term is used for security which seems to have fallen quite a bit in a specified period. In other words, a security that has been continually sold in a specified period tends to reach a level wherein the sellers are no more interested in selling at further lower rates. This is where the buyers’ step in and try to buy these stocks at low prices, leading to an increase in demand over the supply. This fresh buying tends to push the price up hence resulting in a short upside movement or, in technical parlance a “Bounce”. This point is where the downtrend witnesses a temporary upside momentum which is exactly quoted as a “Dead Cat Bounce”. The ideology is “Even a dead cat will bounce if fallen from a great height.” Likewise, a short bounce is quite expected after a prolonged downtrend which does not change the trend as a bounce does not mean the cat has become alive. Image Source ©Kalkine Group Does it signify a reversal from a downtrend? A Dead Cat bounce is an upside momentum, witnessed after a prolonged downward trend, generally near the oversold price region. But it is to be noted that this price bounce is merely a reaction of the downtrend which is often witnessed in the oversold areas. This does not change the entire trend, and more often than not, the trend continues in the primary direction after the bounce fizzles out. Why is it difficult to trade a Dead Cat Bounce? Most of the time it is difficult to trade a move like a Dead Cat Bounce as the bounce is often very quick and short-lived. The overall trend remains negative, which is in contradictory to the short-term bounce. Also, few investors mistake it for the trend change, which often proves to be a mistake. It generally becomes difficult to estimate some key support areas from where the bounce may occur as the downtrend is quite strong and lacks demand to support the price. However, there are some momentum indicators like RSI (Relative Strength Index), Stochastics oscillator etc. which may help to gauge oversold zones from where the bounce may occur. What are the reasons for a Dead Cat Bounce? There could be many reasons for a Dead Cat Bounce to occur on the charts as the sudden demand may come due to numerous reasons. Some of the reasons are Oversold Price As discussed, due to a prolonged downtrend and continued selling the price often comes to a level wherein the sellers are no more interested in selling at these lower prices and at the same time buyers often find a value proposition. This leads to a spike in demand, which ultimately results in a Dead Cat Bounce. Strong support area There are some levels of support on the price chart that are quite prominent. In other words, there are some regions of support which are quite strong and may remain relevant for years. These support levels are generally hard to break at the first attempt, which results in a bounce or a complete reversal. How to profit from a Dead Cat Bounce There are two different strategies when it comes to trading these kinds of sharp and against the trend moves. They are contradictory to each other, but both are based on proven price behaviour. Short Selling the rally As the primary trend of the underlying is still downward, one thought arises to go short on the bounce. This strategy one to participate in the downtrend but with a much better price. If these rallies are met with a resistance level like a falling trendline, horizontal price resistance etc. then these areas are ideal to sell the bounce in a downtrend. Buying into the rally Another opinion arises, why not to participate in the bounce? This strategy can also be fruitful provided the bounce should be stronger and last for a while, which is not always the case. This essentially calls for a very quick decision making while capitalising on the temporary bounce. Bottomline A Dead Cat Bounce is a prolonged downtrend followed by a short-term bounce. These bounces generally don’t last long, and once they fade, the trend continues towards the south. However, sometimes a bounce may also act as a reversal, but for the added confirmation a trader should also look at other signals of a reversal like bullish divergence at the bottom or a double bottom chart pattern.
What is Earnings Per Share? EPS is the per share profit by a business in a given period. While analysing a business financially, it serves as one of the basic tools. EPS is calculated by dividing profits by total shares outstanding for a given period. EPS is reported on the profit and loss statement of an enterprise and works as a denominator for beloved price-to-earnings ratio (P/E ratio), used not just by novice investors but also fund managers. A business is required to generate sustainable earnings in its life cycle, and earnings or profits are essentially among major intend of a promotor. To know more about P/E ratio read: Understanding Price-Earnings Ratio But reported earnings of a business will likely differ from actual cash earnings because devising profits mandate broader accounting standards and principles to provide a fair picture of an enterprise. EPS, therefore, becomes imperative for investors, market participants and other users of information. EPS estimates are circulated by sell-side analysts to market participants. Financial Modelling is applied to arrive at the EPS estimates of future financial years, semi-annual periods or quarterly, depending on the reporting adopted by the firm. Analyst estimates are then collected by market data providers like Reuters, Bloomberg, IRESS to provide a consensus view of analysts on the business and its financials, including revenue, operating expense, earnings before interest and tax, profit after tax, EPS. Market estimates enable participants to evaluate the expectations of sell-side analysts from a particular company, sector or even index. Analyst estimates also indicate the divergence between an individual’s expectations and collective expectations of analysts that are tracking the company. An individual can, therefore, determine whether the stock of the company is undervalued or overpriced by the market against hi one’s fair value estimates that are based on the expectations from the company. More on EPS read: What Do We Mean By Earnings Per Share (EPS)? How to calculate EPS? Although general formula considers total shares outstanding in the denominator, it is preferred to use weighted average shares outstanding over a period because companies issue new shares, buyback or cancel shares. Net Income is the profit reported by a business after incurring income tax. It is also called as Net Profit After Tax. Dividends on Preferred Shares are paid to preferential shareholders because they have first right over the income of a business, but preferred shares don’t have voting rights like common shareholders or ordinary shareholders. Weighted Average Shares Outstanding is calculated after incorporating changes in number of shares during a period, and using weighted average shares outstanding provides a fair financial position of a company. Basic V/S Diluted EPS Diluted EPS is calculated after adding the weighted average number of shares that would be issued after the conversion of dilutive shares to weighted average shares outstanding. Dilutions can include share rights, performance rights, convertible bonds etc. Whereas Basic EPS is calculated by taking weighted average shares outstanding that incorporate changes to number of shares outstanding such as buyback, new issues etc. What is Adjusted-EPS? In a financial period, firms may incur one-time expenses or transactions that are not usual in the normal course of business. The objective of adjusted EPS is to arrive at a fair picture of the business, especially for financial forecasting. Extraordinary items are excluding from EPS to arrive at adjusted EPS figure. These items can include gain on sale of assets, loss on sale of assets, merger costs, capital raising costs, integration expenses etc. What is Normalised EPS? Normalised EPS is calculated to arrive at an EPS figure, which embeds the fluctuations in income due to business cycles or industry cycles. It also includes adjustments made for calculation of adjusted EPS such as one-time gains or losses. Normalised EPS is a useful measure for companies that are sensitive to economic cycles or changes in the business environment. By smoothening out the fluctuations, it provides a fair picture of the business. If a company has reported high normalised earnings over periods, it is considered that the company is less sensitive to changes in business cycles because of its stable revenues and income during the periods. EPS and Price-to-earnings ratio Calculation of price-to-earnings ratio requires EPS as denominator and price of the stock as numerator. EPS therefore becomes a very important financial metric for investors. EPS and price data also allows participants to compare the historical trends of the P/E ratio with the current market scenario and P/E ratio of the stock. How can increase grow EPS? Businesses can increase EPS by focusing on increasing their revenue, by improving operational efficiencies either by deploying technology to reduce cost, or negotiate better prices with vendors, operate in tax efficient manner, etc. Businesses can also improve EPS by undertaking corporate action such as buying back of shares. Read: Pros and cons of buybacks – Story of 5 Popular Stocks including Aurizon Good read: Every Doubt You Have On Earnings Per Share- Explained Right Here!
What are ETFs? ETFs are similar to funds where pooled money of investors is managed by a fund manager, who runs the ETF. These funds invest in equity, debt, commodity or any other asset class, depending on its offering. Good read: Mastering the Basics of Investing in ETFs Price of the ETF is based on a value of net assets in the fund and is subject to change each trading day consistent with underlying changes in the value of net assets. Since ETFs are traded in markets just like shares, the quoted price of an ETF either reflects a discount to its NAV or a premium to its NAV. Investors have flocked to ETFs because of low-cost proposition and opportunity to take exposure in a specific pool of assets, which are professionally managed by an investment team with the investment manager. Some ETFs are also used as a proxy to define sentiment in an underlying sector, commodity or index since ETFs are actively traded in market hours, incorporating the latest information in prices. Fund management businesses have continued launching new and innovative ETFs, which have seen great demand over the past. Read: Gold ETFs register massive capital influx; while PDI, GPP, ERM, AME, RED Under Investors’ Lens Large and popular ETFs have also defied liquidity problems because of large scale investor participation. But it remains a problem with lesser-known ETFs with small market participation. ETFs also pay distributions to the holders that are either derived through interest income, dividend income or capital gain. Active and Passive ETFs With ETFs markets growing strongly as ever, there remains a divide between active fund managers and passive fund managers. Passive investment strategies have grown immensely popular among market participants over time. This strategy is cost effective. Many seasoned investors such as Warren Buffett, John C Bogle- founder of the Vanguard Group have endorsed passive ETFs. Active ETFs do not track a benchmark, and performance is not tracked to any given index. These funds are based on countries, sectors, market capitalisation, asset classes, etc., and active investment management allows a manager to beat the returns delivered by broader markets or indices. If you look at the great investors like Warren Buffet, Philip Fisher or Peter Lynch, they have set themselves as a preamble for active investors, and their record of delivering sustainable returns over the long term continues to attract investors to active alleys of markets. Since Passive ETFs are designed to match returns of respective benchmarks, there is no scope of delivering outperformance no guarantee that fund will not underperform the benchmark. However, the expenses charged to investors are relatively lower compared to Active ETFs. Passive ETFs are cheaper than Active ETFs because the use of resources is limited in the former. Since they are designed to match the benchmark and its underlying securities, trading in Passive ETFs is mostly automated running on algorithms, and stock picking is not required, thereby no research. Read: ETFs: Investors Up the Ante and ETFs Run the Show for Long-Term Returns ETFs based on asset classes and style Sector ETFs: These are the most common type of ETFs in market. Sector ETFs track specific sectors like Information Technology, Consumer Staples, Consumer Discretionary, Metal & Mining. These are similar to index funds but are actively traded in stock exchanges. Equity ETFs: Equity ETFs may include equity-focused Sector ETFs. As the name suggests equity, these funds invest in stocks independently or are benchmarked to a specific index. Perhaps, Equity ETFs are the most common ETFs. Fixed Income ETFs: These funds invest in fixed income instruments and pay distributions out of the interest earned on bonds. Further Fixed Income ETFs can be separated as investment-grade ETFs, high-yield ETFs, Government bond ETFs. Commodity ETFs: Commodity ETFs invest in physical commodities like precious metal, agricultural goods, natural resource. These funds include products like Gold ETFs, Oil ETFs, Grain ETFs, Silver ETFs. Good read: Investing in Commodity ETFs Short ETFs: Also known as inverse ETFs, these funds are designed to benefit when the benchmark is falling. Short ETFs hold short positions in the benchmark index futures or constituents of the index to benefit from fall in value or prices. To know more about short selling read: Minting Money While the Asset Price Tanks; Enter the World of Short Selling Leveraged ETFs: Leveraged ETFs use derivatives to amplify the returns and risks of a fund. These are also called geared ETFs. Leveraged ETFs may also hold equity or bonds along with the derivatives to amplify the net asset value movement of funds. Do read: All You Need to Know About Exchange Traded Funds Why investors prefer ETFs? Passive investment vehicles continue to appear compelling to a large investor base, and there are numerous reasons driving the demand for passive investment vehicles. Low-cost and no minimum investment: ETFs have lower expenses compared to traditional mutual funds, and most of the funds have no minimum investment criteria. As a result, the market for ETFs has grown strong, due to its reach to investors with limited capital. Must read: Mutual Funds vs. ETFs: Which Are Better? Exposure to specific asset classes: Investors with large portfolio also use ETFs to enter to into specific asset classes like Gold ETF or Commodity ETF, but not limited to sector ETFs, theme-based active ETFs like technology, mobility, e-commerce etc. Portfolio diversification: ETFs provide investors with an opportunity to diversify a portfolio of concentrated stocks by including exposure to specific sectors, indices, and commodities. More importantly, the diversification is available at a low-cost investment, which further drives the need for ETFs in a portfolio. Accessibility: It is perhaps the most compelling value ETFs provide to investors. Since ETFs are available on stock exchanges like shares, investor participation remains strong, and some popular ETFs boast high liquidity levels. Read: Confused on How to Invest in ETFs? We Have Some Tips! Further read: 6 Reasons to look at ETFs