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New tech stocks have (mostly) soared past old standbys in Dow's historic run

FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) apps on a smartphone.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) apps on a smartphone.

It's been a tale of two tech stories over the last 10,000-point gain for the Dow industrials index.

The older gray chips stocks — think IBM, Cisco or even Apple — versus the newer, so-called FANGs — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet: older tech companies founded before 1990 versus their younger brethren.

It's well known that the high-flying FANGs have been outperforming their legacy peers over the last few years. But the extent to which they've been outperforming them — and the broader markets — since the Dow crossed 10,000 is staggering.

Since Oct. 14, 2009 — the Dow's first significant close above 10,000 after the financial crisis — the FANG basket has returned more than 950 percent.

The best performing FANG has been the "N" — Netflix, returning over 1,900 percent, followed by Amazon, up 740 percent since then.

In that same period, the basket of gray chip tech companies has returned about 130 percent.

The legacy laggards that pulled down the gray chip basket are Xerox, Cisco and IBM. All three have returned about 60 percent or less since October 2009.

Some gray chips, though, have proved more agile than others, modernizing their businesses and pleasing investors along the way. Microsoft, for example, has made a big bet on its cloud business under Satya Nadella and returned nearly 170 percent.

And Apple has been a Dow leader since 10,000, returning more than 370 percent.

And one of the biggest gray chip winners may surprise you. Texas Instrumentswhich has benefited from the semiconductors surge — has returned about 250 percent during this period, performing even better than Alphabet.


While FANG shares have flow high, so have their valuations during the Dow's historic march. Netflix has a price-to-earnings ratio of 324 while Amazon's is 189.

Compare that to some of the underperforming older tech stocks. Xerox — which has risen less than 60 percent since October 2009 — has a P/E ratio of just 11.

This year, there are signs that the market has been paying more attention to that discount in gray chips.

Since the start of 2016, the older tech stocks have the FANGs beat. They've returned about 40 percent, double the nearly 20 percent average from Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet.

Over the last 12 months, Symantec has climbed about 50 percent, and IBM is up more than 25 percent, and Advanced Micro Devices has surged 260 percent.

By contrast, Google parent Alphabet has underperformed the S&P 500.

Since the election, the divergence is has held. The gray chip basket has returned nearly 10 percent since President Trump's win while the FANGs are up 6.5 percent.