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A year ago the FAANG stocks were a hot buy — here's where they stand heading into 2019

Key Points
  • The tech stalwarts stumbled in 2018, amid widespread calls for regulation and industry privacy scandals.
  • Rocky trade negotiations with China dragged the overall market lower and offered profit-taking opportunities among the highest-flying, high-valued tech stocks. 
Reed Hastings attends Reed Hastings panel during Netflix 'See What's Next' event at Villa Miani on April 18, 2018 in Rome, Italy.
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At the start of 2018, the so-called FAANG stocks — Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet — were top picks.

Four of the five tech stocks had gained roughly 50 percent the year before, excluding only Alphabet, which rose more than 30 percent in 2017. Facebook was on the heels of its best year since 2013, and Apple was having its best year since 2010.

But the tech stalwarts stumbled in 2018, amid widespread calls for regulation and industry privacy scandals. Rocky trade negotiations with China dragged the overall market lower and opened up profit-taking opportunities among the highest-flying, high-valued tech stocks.

Here's where each of the FAANG stocks stands heading into 2019:

Facebook

Facebook ended the year 25 percent down for 2018, well into bear market territory. The plunge makes for Facebook's worst year of trading, and its only down year since going public in 2012.

The company hemorrhaged market valuation and investor clout as privacy scandals weighed on user metrics and the platform's ad-based business model. Facebook's top executives were grilled by Congress and raked over the coals in public domains.

Facebook will have to face questions from the FTC and ongoing challenges to its user base in 2019, leaving the stock vulnerable to more dips.

Amazon

Amazon ended 2018 more than 28 percent up, making it one of the better performing FAANG stocks for the year.

The e-commerce giant continued to expand its reach into other industries, delving further into health care and media. It launched new brick-and-mortar stores to ground its retail presence. And it launched a nation-wide search for a second headquarters, ultimately announcing significant economic investments in three new locations outside of Seattle.

Amazon stock took a beating in the fourth quarter of 2018, weighed down by market turmoil and weaker than expected guidance for the holiday season. The stock has shed more than 20 percent since September.

Amazon, like Facebook, has been at the center of calls for regulation. Experts and lawmakers, including President Donald Trump, have called for antitrust reviews of the company. Any significant action on that front in 2019 could hit the stock.

Apple

Apple closed almost 7 percent down for 2018, making for the stock's worst year of trading since the 2008 financial crisis. That comes after the stock passed a historic $1 trillion market cap, as the first publicly traded U.S. company to do so.

Apple now trades well below the benchmark, and at a lower valuation than Microsoft.

Apple battled uncertain sales figures and smartphone market saturation, with too little momentum in wearables and home devices to make up the difference. The stock's worst day of trading in 2018 came after its fiscal fourth quarter earnings report, during which Apple announced it would stop reporting individual unit sales and revenue figures for the iPhone and its other biggest product lines.

Apple largely avoided the scandal and regulatory pressure the other FAANG stocks felt during 2018. But its slowing growth, uncertain future and proximity to volatile stocks dragged its value lower — and could continue to do so into 2019.

Netflix

Netflix outperformed its FAANG peers in 2018, gaining nearly 40 percent during the year.

The company upped its original programming spend to fend off competitors like Hulu, Amazon, HBO and the soon-to-launch Disney+ streaming service. Netflix saw success with more original TV shows and movies, across more countries, than in past years, and announced notable content partnerships.

The company continues to burn through cash, though, which could hang over the stock in 2019.

Alphabet

Alphabet ended the year practically flat, down just under 1 percent in 2018.

The company suffered its own privacy and content moderation reckoning, though arguably to a lesser degree than Facebook's, and defended its business practices before Congress. Google also faced backlash from its own employees around the company's handling of misconduct and discrimination and answered to EU antitrust regulators to the tune of several billion dollars in fines.

Despite all of that, the company's ad revenue continued to grow and its "Other Bets" like self-driving car company Waymo made notable strides.

A minimal loss for the year, alongside painful losses among other FAANGs, could bode well for Google going into 2019.

WATCH: Tech had a rocky 2018. Here's what 2019 might look like.

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Tech had a rocky 2018. Here's what 2019 might look like.