US stocks fell last week after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen implied that tapering could end this fall and that the first rate hike could be as soon as six months after that, but the dip was temporary for most stocks. But the biggest, most hyped names in the tech sector have continued to fall, getting hit particularly hard today.
Tech stocks see double digit drops from recent highs
As of this writing, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is down 3.67%, and SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) is down 3.6%. Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is down 6.72%, Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) is down 3.48%, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is down 3.92%, LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) is down 4.3%, Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) is down 2.53%… you get the idea. The S&P 500, for comparison, is down about 0.5% (and cash-flush Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is up 1%). Looking back over the last few days, some of these stocks are posting double digit losses from recent highs (h/t Barry Ritholtz at Bloomberg).
Tech was expensive, but timing hard to explain
Most value investors think that US stocks are expensive, so a correction isn’t shocking. And tech stocks in particular have had sky-high valuations, so again it isn’t strange for that sector to take a bigger hit than the rest of the market. But it’s hard to explain the timing of the fall.
Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) stocks have been on the decline most of the last month, but many other tech stocks seem to have started falling after Yellen’s comments following the recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. One straightforward explanation is that faster-than-expected monetary tightening has caused some investors to look at their portfolios and cash out of some of their more expensive positions.
“There didn’t appear to be any real news affecting Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s stock — no major releases, analyst changes, or anything else of note,” wrote Sam Mattera on The Motley Fool, noticing the same drop. “Shares of the social networking giant have risen more than 30% in just the last six months. Facebook investors may have simply been taking profits early on Monday, causing shares to stumble.”
The same argument can be made about Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), and other tech stocks that have gotten hammered recently, but it’s hard to square that when it is happening to so many similar (tech, media friendly, expensive) stocks at the same time. Even if it wasn’t the FOMC minutes that sparked the downward correction, seeing all of these stocks move together points to an underlying cause.