Trump is not going to go after big tech, says Wells Fargo analyst

Key Points
  • Wells Fargo thinks that talk of regulating tech firms is overblown.
  • Amazon is also in the spotlight on suggestions that it will be forced to pay more tax.
  • Trump says Amazon is causing "tremendous loss to the U.S."
Still overweight on technology sector: Wells Fargo

Fears that Donald Trump is set to go after Amazon and enforce tighter regulation on the wider tech industry are overblown, according to a Wells Fargo analyst.

Amazon dropped 3 percent on Wednesday after a report from Axios, citing anonymous sources, said that Trump wants to "go after" the e-commerce giant and address the company's favorable tax treatment. During his campaign trail in 2016, Trump told supporters that if he became president Amazon would have "such problems."

Now in a tweet Thursday, Trump has accused the firm of causing "tremendous loss to the U.S.".

Tweet 1

In recent days, big tech has seen a steep sell-off as investors calculate what lawmakers around the world might do to regulate the sector, particularly following revelations surrounding the use and misuse of data. From March 16 until Tuesday, Facebook shed almost $80 billion in value following concerns over data breaches.

Christopher Harvey, head of Equity & Quant Strategy at Wells Fargo Securities said despite current negative sentiment, he would be surprised to see a Trump administration enforce new laws.

"If you look at President Trump, one of the things he ran on was de-regulation. So I have a difficult time believing that he and the government want to regulate the whole industry," Harvey said.

Technology stocks make up 25 percent of the S&P 500. Apple, Amazon and Google parent Alphabet alone have a combined market capitalization of around $2 trillion. That represents almost 10 percent of the index's total market cap of about $23 trillion.

While that imbalance is unnerving for some investors, Harvey said tech's heavy presence should act as its own insurance.

"The goodwill, the prices, the productivity that technology brings to the marketplace and to other sectors is strong, so I don't think we want to lose that," he added.

The house view of Wells Fargo is that the broader fundamentals of the tech sector remain intact and that valuations remain reasonable.

Expert: Firms like Facebook, Google to be hit hardest by regulation

However, a less positive perspective is offered by Cyrus Mewawalla, who is head of Thematic Research at GlobalData.

He told CNBC Thursday that across the world many people now think of big tech firms as BAADD (big, anti-competitive, addictive and destructive to democracy).

Mewawalla forecast that 2018 will be a tough year for some big tech companies with respect to regulation, especially in the area of data privacy and anti-trust issues.

"We think companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google will get hit more in regulation that Apple or Microsoft for example," he said.

He said internet companies hosting fake news on their platforms will lead to more punitive fines, increasing the commercial case for spending large sums of money to fix the problem.