Zuckerberg stands his ground during year of crises

In an exclusive interview, Mark Zuckerberg tells CNN's Laurie Segall why, despite a year of negative headlines, he thinks Facebook can still be a force for good.

Posted: Nov 21, 2018 4:09 PM
Updated: Nov 21, 2018 4:42 PM

The recent stock market meltdown has hit the tech sector particularly hard. How hard? A sextet of well-known techs -- Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google owner Alphabet, Facebook and Netflix -- have lost a collective $1.1 trillion from their all-time highs.

Even though these companies, which some have dubbed the Fab 6, bounced back a bit with the overall market Wednesday, they are in a correction, down more than 10% from recent peaks.

In fact, several of them are even in bear market territory -- 20% or more below their highs.

Investors are clearly reevaluating whether the tech sector, which has led the market's surge for the past few years, deserves to remain a leader on Wall Street.

There are growing concerns that demand for high-priced gadgets like Apple's (AAPL) iPhones are beginning to slow.

Several iPhone suppliers have recently warned of weak sales and Bloomberg reported Wednesday that China's Foxconn Technology Group, which makes iPhones for Apple, is planning significant cost cuts next year.

Foxconn Technology Group would neither confirm nor deny the Bloomberg story, saying in a statement to CNN Business that it regularly reviews its global operations and that "the review being carried out by our team this year is no different than similar exercises carried out in past years."

The possibility of more government regulations on tech -- particularly advertising based companies such as Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL) -- is growing too, and not just in the US.

Amazon's (AMZN) increased clout in retail, cloud computing and media has some wondering if the company could eventually find itself the target of antitrust investigations around the globe, similar to Microsoft (MSFT) back in the late 1990s.

Finally, there's the simple matter of whether or not the big tech companies deserve their lofty valuations. Amazon and Netflix (NFLX) each trade for about 60 times 2019 earnings forecasts -- a huge premium to the broader market.

Big slide leads to buying opportunities

So what's next for the tech sector?

Dave Smith, senior vice president of domestic equities with Bailard, said the recent slide has led to the proverbial case of babies being thrown out with the bathwater -- panic selling that has led to "particularly stark punishment" for some top tech stocks.

"There are a lot of attractive growth stocks that are now trading at steep discounts," Smith said. "These are the ones that we want to own."

Smith, who is also the subadviser for the Nationwide Bailard Technology and Science Fund, said that semiconductor stocks in particular are looking like good values.

According to Morningstar, that fund had chip leaders Texas Instruments (TXN), Nvidia (NVDA) and Broadcom (AVGO) among its top 25 holdings at the end of October. The fund's top five holdings were Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Alphabet and Cisco (CSCO).

Adam Phillips, director of portfolio strategy at EP Wealth Advisors, also said it might be time to go shopping in the tech sector.

Phillips said it's still "too early to sound the all clear" on volatility but he noted that he recently bought some Amazon shares because he thinks there was "indiscriminate selling" in the stock in the past few weeks.

There's another reason why tech may rebound too. More mergers could be on the horizon, especially if earnings growth and the economy start to slow.

Daniel Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, said in a recent report that the sell-off in software stocks in particular may lead to more deals, especially in the lucrative cloud computing market. To that end, IBM (IBM) just plunked down $34 billion for Red Hat.

And Ives noted that Alphabet, which just hired away Oracle's (ORCL) cloud guru Thomas Kurian to lead Google Cloud, could now be "on the war path" for cloud deals in order to compete more effectively with Microsoft and Amazon.

So 2019 could be the year that big tech companies start to put even more of their gigantic cash hoards to use for acquisitions.

CNN's Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.

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