It’s been a good week to own shares of Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.
Americans are on tenterhooks about the outcome of the US election. In key battleground states like Georgia and Pennsylvania, votes are still being counted. But Wall Street is confident it knows how the story ends — and believes the results will boost the top names in tech.
“What you got is really a Goldilocks scenario for tech investors,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives told me.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite has jumped almost 9% this week, on track for its best weekly performance since April. Amazon and Apple shares have shot up more than 9%, while Microsoft’s stock is 10% higher.
Breaking it down: We still don’t know with certainty how the election results will play out. Investors, however, are trading on the assumption that Republicans will retain control of the Senate for at least the next two years, while former Vice President Joe Biden will take the White House.
A divided government, instead of a “blue wave” giving Democrats complete control of Congress, is being read as good news for riskier assets like stocks — especially the tech sector.
That’s because Wall Street believes a Republican Senate will stop a Biden administration from dramatically hiking corporate taxes, while lowering the risk of major regulatory action.
“[A] blue wave was viewed as initially positive for stimulus … but on the other side of that, into 2021, the Street ultimately feared what that would do the tax structure of corporations, as well as antitrust momentum,” Ives said.
In short, investors see at least two more years of status quo. And the current environment has been decidedly positive for tech.
While the S&P 500 has gained 8.7% year-to-date, Amazon has rallied nearly 80%.
During the pandemic, tech stocks have benefited from investors looking to play both offense and defense. On one hand, these companies are growing rapidly, as demand for cloud computing, delivery and online services ramps up. They also are somewhat sheltered from the negative effects of the Covid-19 economy, since keeping stores open isn’t a critical part of their business.
“[The pandemic] further fuels the work-from-home tech trade that’s been working since March,” Ives said.
The election and the trajectory of the pandemic may have convinced investors that tech stocks remain the place to be. But risks remain.
Market concentration among just a few names remains a point of concern. Right now, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google parent Alphabet make up nearly a quarter of the value of the S&P 500.
In a note to clients Thursday, Capital Economics said that following the election, it expects the dominance of a few very large high-growth firms — namely, the tech giants — to maintain their dominance over smaller, value-oriented companies. The research group noted that in contrast to the Nasdaq, “value-heavy small cap indices have barely risen” since Tuesday.
And tech companies may still face some challenges, especially because Democrats and Republicans agree that Big Tech needs greater oversight. Regulation is not off the table, and the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Google, which claims that the company stifled competition to maintain its powerful position in the online search marketplace, is ongoing.