Are FANMAG stocks in a bubble?
Don’t start partying like it’s 1999 – keep watching valuations, these analysts argue
Much has been written about how financial markets are increasingly becoming bifurcated into “haves and have-nots.”
One of the clearest representations of that phenomenon may be in the mega-cap technology stocks known as “FANMAG.”
The FANMAG acronym expands on the well-known “FANG” stocks that dominated much of the 2010s: Facebook Inc.
Later, Apple Inc.
and then Microsoft Corp.
As investors pile in, rewarding the already proven — and pricy — winners, some analysts are suggesting it may soon be time to keep an eye out for bubbles.
“Clearly FANMAG deserves to trade at a premium,” strategists at Ned Davis Research said in an analysis out Thursday. But, they added, “we remain on bubble watch because we know a premium can become excessive in a bifurcated fundamental environment like we have now.”
First, to the premium: by one measure, sales didn’t just grow for the FANMAG components in the first quarter of the year, it accelerated. And the companies remain quite profitable: “Other sectors have to be envious of FANMAG’s 56.2% gross margins and 17.8% net margins,” wrote the analysts, Pat Tschosik and Rob Anderson.
|Net sales||Gross Profit||Net income|
|% of S&P 500 500||7.7||12.1||16.1|
|Year over year growth||14.9%||16.2%||12.3%|
|S&P 500 ex-FANMAG||$11,548.5||$3,951.5||$896.9|
|Year over year growth||3.1%||0.3%||-15.0%|
|Figures are for calendar year Q1, trailing four quarters. Source: Ned Davis Research|
Tschosik and Anderson reckon that FANMAG stocks are more richly valued: they trade at 19.8 times enterprise value to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, versus 11.0 times that metric for the rest of the S&P 500
. But their gross margins are 1.6 times and net margins 2.3 times the rest of the index.
“As a COVID ‘winner’ with fundamentals trending in the opposite direction of most other sectors, we would not sell the group,” the analysts wrote. “Eventually, however, other sectors’ fundamentals will improve and FANMAG will mean revert relative to the S&P 500. The group now accounts for 16% of S&P 500 net income, but its market cap is now heading north of 22% of S&P 500 market cap, which has us on a ‘1999-like’ bubble watch.”
One other metric the Ned Davis analysts are watching is the trailing three-year gain per annum for the FANMAG cohort, shown in the chart above. Right now that’s 31.9%, which is hefty, but still below their analysis of historical bubble periods, when it reached 47.9%.