Not all FAANG stocks are created equal

  • The modest reaction to Netflix's subscriber miss tells you something: The long-awaited break in FAANG names is not imminent.
  • It also demonstrates that investors do not expect growth expectations to change too much, even with other FAANG stocks. Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet all hit historic highs yesterday.
Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
Jason Lee | Reuters
Tim Cook, CEO, Apple

The modest reaction to Netflix's subscriber miss (down 5 percent) tells you something: The long-awaited break in FAANG names is not imminent. More importantly, it demonstrates that investors, even momentum investors, do not expect growth expectations to change too much, even with other FAANG stocks. Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet all hit historic highs yesterday.

But don’t kid yourself: FAANG stocks are not created equal.

First, there's the difference in size. It's huge. Apple has nearly six times the value of Netflix.

FAANG market capitalization (billions)

Apple $938

Amazon $896

Alphabet $836

Facebook $605

Netflix $166

Here's the irony: The biggest stock by market cap, Apple, has the smallest gain this year (13%), while the smallest stock, Netflix, has the biggest gain (99%).

FAANG stocks this year (% gain)

Netflix 99%

Amazon 58%

Facebook 18%

Alphabet 14%

Apple 13%

What truly separates this group is earnings growth: It's no longer similar. Netflix and Amazon have far outperformed the rest of the FAANG names this year because their earnings growth expectations have been much higher.

FAANG: Earnings growth expectations (2018 vs. 2019)

Netflix 62%

Amazon 60%

Facebook 20%

Apple 15%

Alphabet 8%

Source: Factset

That is an enormous difference in earnings growth, and it is almost perfectly reflected in the stock performance. Netflix is the biggest performer, followed by Amazon and Facebook. Apple and Alphabet have similar performance, up 13 and 14 percent respectively.

Viewed from this perspective, the outsized gains for Netflix and Amazon make perfect sense. At 62 percent and 60 percent earnings growth, they are growing far faster than their three brethren, and their stocks are up far more.

When Jim Cramer invented the FANG concept several years ago, it was meant as a stand-in for companies with the highest growth prospects.

That's still true, but as some companies mature the spread between that growth is widening.