Talking Numbers

This is a big warning for tech

Big warning for tech

Are big misses by Google and IBM signs there's trouble ahead for the tech sector?

It's been a mix of good news and bad news over the past few days for some of the biggest tech companies out there.

Sure, there were earnings beats by the likes of Apple and Texas Instruments, both of which soundly exceeded analysts' expectations.

(Watch: Apple earnings to send stock over $100: Pro)

But there were also some big doozies.

Last week, Google disappointed Wall Street by missing revenue estimates. Then after reporting lower-than-expected revenue and earnings, IBM's stock plunged as much as 9 percent Monday morning.

On top of that, money has been running away tech stocks in massive amounts.

In the past week, nearly $2.3 billion was pulled from the ETF that tracks the tech-heavy Nasdaq-100 index (trading under the symbol QQQ), according to data compiled by Chantico Global. Specifically to tech, the ETF tracking the tech sector in the S&P 500 (trading under the symbol XLK) saw nearly $800 million in outflows.

With the XLK now down about 7 percent for the month – slightly worse than the S&P 500 – is now the time to bail out of the tech sector?

"A lot of folks are pulling money blindly out of tech generally because people think about highfliers," said Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global. "The funny thing about the XLK is the largest components of it aren't actually that overvalued."

Indeed, data gathered by FactSet show many of the XLK's largest components are trading below the S&P 500's multiple of 16 times earnings.


Weight (percent)

Forward P/E

Apple Inc.



Microsoft Corporation



Verizon Communications Inc.



AT&T Inc.



International Business Machines Corporation



Facebook Inc. Class A



Google Inc. Class A



Google Inc. Class C



Intel Corporation



Oracle Corporation



QUALCOMM Incorporated



Cisco Systems Inc.



"There are tech companies that are overvalued and there are tech companies that are not," remarked Sanchez, a CNBC contributor.

Yet in 2014 the XLK has been behaving more like a highflier, according to Richard Ross, global technical strategist at Auerbach Grayson. "It might be filled with value stocks, but it has been trading like a growth-oriented ETF," he said. "That could be its Achilles' heel."

(See: CNBC's Tech coverage)

After gaining nearly 14 percent from January to its September peak, the XLK saw a 10 percent pullback and is now trading just above its technically significant 200-day moving average at around $37.56. Ross believes the $38.42 level will be resistance in the short-term.

However, Ross' long-term chart of the XLK shows trouble ahead. "If you're not looking at longer-term charts, you're not trading and investing properly," he warned.

During the recently pullback, the XLK began testing its 50-week moving average at around the $37 level which coincided with what Ross sees as a three-year uptrend support line. "If we were to fall below both of those key levels of support, [there is] very little in between there," he cautioned. "That next level of support, which is another 10 – 12 percent down, comes in around the 150-week moving average."

The 150-week moving average is currently at $37.28, a level that also served as resistance in 2013.

"We can get there," said Ross, a "Talking Numbers" contributor. "Everybody thinks this time is different [and that] there won't be a slowdown. Keep in mind these are still cyclical businesses, even though the technology companies in this ETF have become somewhat of a utility of technology. They still have slowdowns and cyclical troughs. I think we enter into one of those and the stock prices will decline commensurately."

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