Tech stocks could rally another 15% this year with a Biden win and split Congress, says analyst
Tech is back in the game.
After a tumultuous few weeks for the sector that saw the tech-heavy Nasdaq fall over 5% last week, some analysts are more bullish than ever about tech stocks as a market-favored election outcome is looking more likely: a Biden presidency with a split Congress.
Stocks en masse soared Wednesday as the probability of a so-called blue wave (where Biden wins the White House and Democrats control both the House and Senate) appears to have waned. But with the odds now leaning more toward a Biden win and a divided Congress, with Republicans maintaining control of the Senate, markets appear relieved at the promise of gridlock—an environment that would likely stymie major policy changes.
For tech in particular, a possible Biden-plus-split-Congress scenario is a “Goldilocks election outcome” for tech stocks because “the chances of major legislative changes to antitrust law now is off the table in the eyes of investors which posed the biggest risks to tech stalwarts with a ripple impact across the sector,” Wedbush’s Dan Ives wrote in a note Thursday. While lawsuits like the DOJ versus Google and “potentially others on the horizon remain a long-term threat with litigation likely to go for years, for now the Beltway vs. Big Tech regulatory environment looks less onerous,” and “stocks are [reacting] accordingly in snapback fashion,” Ives suggests.
Given the environment, mega cap and IT stocks may “also be benefiting from less likelihood of higher corporate taxes,” UBS analysts wrote in a note Wednesday.
Wedbush’s Ives is willing to put a price on it: The tech bull estimates tech stocks could rally another 10% to 15% into year-end, boosted by some of the biggest names in the markets. In particular, Ives sees benefits for leaders including Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet to trade higher by 2021.
According to the Street’s view, says Ives, a Biden presidency would likely “take a relatively more friendly tone on China technology and policy issues which could ratchet down tensions and rhetoric between the U.S./China” for the sector, he notes. That would be a “major bullish sign for the likes of Apple, Cisco, and semi names which are caught in the crossfire on this ongoing U.S./China battle with 5G front and center,” he argues.
Apart from China, Wedbush is bullish on Apple in general for what Ives calls the iPhone 12 5G “super cycle” and its services business that is “thriving in this environment.” He sees Microsoft’s Azure/Office 365 continuing to be a “major beneficiary” of the acceleration to cloud amid the pandemic, a trend he considers to be “still in the third inning of playing out
among enterprises.” Despite antitrust woes, Alphabet’s advertising/search and Google Cloud Platform saw “relative tailwinds” in the September quarter, he notes.
“Back to the leaders”
Though the votes are still being counted and some Senate races remain tight, Lisa Shalett, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s chief investment officer, argues the big trade now is going “back to the leaders at the beginning of the year…You’re back to the work-from-home guys, back to the FAANGs, back to defense,” she told Fortune Wednesday.
And others, like LPL’s Jeff Buchbinder, agree. “No matter what happens in the White House, if we get a split Congress, it’s a continuation of this environment with the COVID threat. We’re still going to have the stay-at-home, work-from-home environment that’s good for technology,” he told Fortune Wednesday.
That said, tech stocks have had a torrid run in 2020, and some firms like J.P. Morgan have recently cooled to tech stocks—suggesting the markets are “primed for a broadening in leadership” that would likely happen “irrespective of the U.S. elections winner,” strategists wrote Monday. However, bulls like Wedbush’s Ives argue with a “nirvana potential election scenario and fundamental drivers for tech names gaining momentum, we continue to be bullish on owning the secular growth stories for 2021.”
Apple shares have soared roughly 6% since Tuesday, while shares of Microsoft and Alphabet jumped around 7% and 6.6% respectively, as of early midday trading Thursday.