Trading Desk: Communications Breakdown

I’ve been bearish on the “FANG And Friends” approach to crowding into the biggest technology stocks for awhile now. But their problems mask a vibrant information economy closer to ground level.

Start with the communications names. Three out of four members of the original FANG group moved across sector lines years ago (from technology to communications) and even after their recent declines they still account for a staggering 42% of all capital in their new sector.

And that 42% of the sector has become a huge drag. Thanks to Alphabet (GOOG, the “G” in the FANG) and Meta (META, formerly Facebook or “F”) alone, earnings across the group dropped an additional 15% last year . . . and Netflix (NFLX, the “N”) was no help there.

Thanks to those three companies, what would have otherwise been a relatively soft earnings stall into a disaster. Stick to the old-fashioned wireless networks and there’s no recession at all.

Throw out the high-tech names for the time being. META is still in decline. NFLX might boost earnings 2% over last year, which isn’t exactly the kind of hypergrowth story that supports a gigantic stock.

And GOOG is currently on track to raise the bottom line 10% in the new year. That’s pretty good. But again, it’s not exactly worth getting exited.

At this stage, GOOG is mature. It just isn’t finding any new worlds to conquer and management’s freeze on more aggressive “moonshot” incubation projects isn’t going to help open any dramatic doors.

I’d rather be in old-fashioned AT&T (T) or Verizon (VZ) than META. For that matter, because these stocks pay dividends, I’d rather park there than in NFLX.

T-Mobile (TMUS), on the other hand, is set to triple its earnings this year. If you want real dynamism, this is the place. GOOG can wait.