As investors look for new acronyms to express investment themes its worth focusing on the fantastic 'FAANG' trade (we add Apple to ours) performance and why its days are numbered.
Investors are correct to be concerned about the future direction of FAANG stocks. After all, together with Microsoft, these companies accounted for 50 percent of the gains for the S&P 500 in 2018, as well leading the recent declines.
Don't wait for FAANG leadership to pick markets up again. There are serious headwinds— rising costs for the business model itself, including significant regulatory scrutiny— facing Facebook and Google. In the other side, positive tailwinds will favor Amazon, Microsoft, and Netflix.
We suggest investors drop the 'F' and 'G' and add 'M'. Consider "MAAN" as the new leadership group in global markets.
As we've written before, in 2018 there is brewing storm over data privacy, i.e. how a company uses your personal data to generate profits. Damage to shareholder value won't be just in the form of rising costs and fines for FB and GOOG, it could eventually lead to significant declines in shareholder value due to customers losing trust in management teams—due to the privacy issue.
Apple CEO took a hammer to other members of FAANG at a speech in Europe this week, suggesting some companies (guess who?) in the "Data Industrial Complex" are "weaponizing" the management of your personal data. A solution, he suggests, is for the US to enact similar privacy protections to Europe.
For investors waiting to buy the FAANG dip, remember that It's one thing for lawmakers to lob threats at corporations for purposes of political theatre, it's another if the CEO of the world's largest — and richest — corporation is publicly going after rivals. Apple has a mountain of cash they can dispose to lobby for their interests. Also consider that Americans' mood on data privacy has shifted. A recent WSJ poll suggests 68 percent of Americans would now like to see a law similar to GDPR in the US.