Trading Nation

Apple and four other of the largest publicly traded companies are about to report earnings – what to watch

Apple and four other of the largest publicly traded companies are about to report earnings
Apple and four other of the largest publicly traded companies are about to report earnings

The five largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. – Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook – will report earnings this week.

Together they make up roughly $7 trillion in market cap and could dictate how the cap-weighted S&P 500 trades in the next week and beyond. Microsoft is set to report Tuesday after the bell, and the rest are scheduled for Thursday.

Tech investors now have to grapple with a big question, according to Michael Bapis, managing director of Vios Advisors at Rockefeller Capital.

"We frankly have a big dilemma here," Bapis told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Monday. "[Tech has] been a leader during this e-commerce boom that we've had because of the pandemic but also because we're in a technological revolution. Their multiples have expanded a bit, their balance sheets are getting a little extended, and yet at the same time, their stocks keep going up."

"The dilemma for us is to say, 'OK, are they a little bit expensive, and is there going to be a shift in a rotation from growth to value in general in the markets and then specifically with these companies?'" he said.

Bapis warns that tech stocks could come under near-term pressure during the earnings stretch after their sharp climb off the lows. The big five stocks have rallied more than 57% off March lows — Apple, the best performer, has surged 116% since then.

Apple and Microsoft are categorized as tech, Facebook and Alphabet are in the communication services sector and Amazon in consumer discretionary. All but Microsoft and Alphabet have far exceeded their respective sectors' move since March.

"I think ultimately you'll see a shift from growth to value in general, and that may affect these companies short term but not long term," said Bapis.

Ari Wald, head of technical analysis at Oppenheimer, disagrees. He said he believes the tech sector will continue to outperform the rest of the market.

"What's so notable is the resiliency," Wald said during the same "Trading Nation" segment. "When the market is swinging toward beta, tech's not necessarily going to be the top performer, but it's going to keep pace. That's what we've seen. We've seen groups like semiconductors do well against that backdrop. And then when we've seen these market setbacks tech's been able to hold up against that backdrop, too. So it's really been this steadiness."

In particular, he highlights strength in Facebook as indicative of more upside ahead.

"It had some nice bullish action recently. It turned up from its 100-day average and then gapped higher. Now that gap comes in at $270, and that can often be then viewed as a support level. So if you do see a little bit of setback into $270, I think that would be a level where traders can accumulate that stock," said Wald.

Facebook closed Monday at $277.11 a share. It has rallied 35% this year.

Disclosure: Bapis and Vios hold Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet and Facebook shares.