As the busiest week for earnings begins, five tech giants reporting this week could cause a gain or reduction of $181 billion in value for investors.
Facebook and Microsoft kick things off after the closing bell on Wednesday, and the options market is implying about a 5.5 percent move in either direction for Facebook and a 5 percent move for Microsoft.
Next comes Amazon, Alphabet and Apple on Thursday afternoon. The options market is anticipating moves of 6.5 percent, 4.5 percent and 4 percent, respectively, in either direction for those names. If these implied moves come to fruition, that could represent a $181 billion swing in market cap.
Options traders calculate the implied move for equities by measuring a particular stock's so-called straddle — or at the money put and call. The amount of the straddle typically captures market markers' expectations for how much a stock is going to move.
The group as a whole looks attractive, says Carter Worth, Cornerstone Macro's head of technical analysis. He's looking at one name in particular for a bigger breakout.
Worth noted that Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet represent the five largest stocks in the S&P 500 by market cap, and with the addition of Netflix, those six tech heavyweights represent 14 percent of the S&P 500 and $3.7 trillion in combined market cap.
When those six stocks are plotted equal weight on a chart, "it's a beautiful uptrend. In fact, the [trend line] draws itself and has just bounced off the line like clockwork. I mean it's a testament to the importance of charts. So what I'm thinking is more [gains] to come [for the tech heavyweights]," Worth said.
More importantly, when looking at the relative performance of those tech heavyweights to the broader tech sector, Worth noted that "they've made no progress [relatively] in two years, …they've not outperformed in the last 24 months, that they're just breaking out to new highs on a relative basis. That's key."
Worth pointed to Alphabet as a top pick going into earnings. "I'm thinking at the minimum we get to the top of the [ascending] channel — another 10 percent-12 percent [of upside]."
He noted that after the last two years, Alphabet has been underperforming the market; however, "it is just now starting to outperform and break above trend. That's a key set up. I think you want to play Google long into [earnings]," Worth said.
According to FactSet, analysts are expecting Alphabet to report $32.29 earnings per share on $88.9 billion in revenue.