Tech Stocks Continue to Tumble, Led by Alphabet and Apple
Bearish analyst reports on the two tech titans contributed to the latest bout of selling. Both the S&P 500 information technology sector and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite were off about 1%, double the declines for the broader market.
Thursday’s fall follows the worst two-day drop for the sector in nearly a year. But tech remains up nearly 17% this year, twice the 8.4% rise for the overall S&P 500 .
“I think it’s a perfectly normal backing off. Tech has done really well. All of sudden everyone wakes up and says, ‘Holy cow, maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves,’ and backs off a little bit,” said Brad McMillan, Chief Investment Officer for Commonwealth Financial in Waltham, Massachusetts.
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Shares of Google’s parent Alphabet fell 2% as Canaccord Genuity downgraded its rating of the stock to “hold,” from “buy.”
The downgrade triggered a broader tech selloff, according to Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
Also, Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz wrote that Apple is near the peak valuation levels in its iPhone 6 cycle which “could mean a bumpy ride lower” if the prospects for a mega sales cycle diminish for its next smartphone. Apple shares fell 1.5%.
Shares of social media company Snap (SNAP), which held its initial public offering earlier this year, were down 3.4%.
The selloff came a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked interest rates, as expected, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank could start selling bonds on its balance sheet “very soon.”
While the tech sector has fallen 4% in the past week, the overall S&P is only off about 0.2%. That suggests investors may be cashing in their tech profits in favor of other sectors such as financials, which have lagged the broader rally this year, and utilities and telecommunications, which are high-dividend paying groups.
“It definitely feels like a rotation that’s gone on for a few days with tech being weakened,” said Edward Perkin, chief equity investment officer at Eaton Vance.