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Tech Winners, Losers Under Trump Administration

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After crashing on the news of Donald Trump’s election, the broad stock market partially came back, particularly bank stocks. However, technology stocks didn’t fare as well out of the gate, especially the biggies such as the FANG stocks: Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX) and Google (GOOGL). Some losses were erased throughout the week, but analysts say at this point, investors in technology stocks may have to look at internal sectors rather than the broader market for opportunities during Trump’s administration.

During the campaign, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) reviewed candidate Trump’s policy positions on the tech industry, or at least what was on his campaign website and what he said during speaking events. His general philosophies seemed to be focused on reducing business taxes and regulations, strengthening homeland security with potential effects on weakening encryption and strengthened trade enforcement. All of these, except perhaps reduced taxation, come with pluses and minuses for the tech industry. Tagged on this that would be positive for technology: taxing past foreign profits held in cash at 10%.

One issue that could affect tech companies was Trump’s opposition to H-1B visas, instead calling for U.S. companies to hire from a U.S. pool of largely unskilled workers. He had stated, however, he was for high-skilled immigration, which is a positive for the tech sector.

All this could be nullified if various trade agreements are broken, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and NAFTA, which are a boon for global tech companies. Trump also promised to punish companies that offshore production by taxing their imports back to the United States.

Amazon, Energy Tech Early Losers

The technology market was a big backer of Hillary Clinton, donating more than 100 times to the campaign than to the Republicans. Will this come back to haunt them? It certainly will haunt Amazon, which dropped dramatically throughout the post-election week by almost 7%. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ feud with Trump seemed to weigh on that stock’s performance, and could be carried forward, especially with Trump’s threatening of the AT&T merger and stating Amazon should be reviewed for anti-trust behavior. Whether a President Trump follows through will affect the company’s stock going forward.

Although it is too early to say, according to many analysts, some stocks may be bigger losers in a Trump administration that promised to bring manufacturing back to the United States. Renewable energies are one example. Writes financial analyst Martin Tillier: “Some areas of the tech world will undoubtedly be held back for the long term. It would be a brave, or maybe foolish, person who would move money into the solar power industry, say, rather than putting that money to work in traditional big oil companies.” One firm that was immediately affected: Tesla Motors (TSLA), which dropped 5.5% throughout the post election week.

Clinton Brewer, director or investments for Meeder Investment Management, said in an interview, “You have to look more at the individual security level, and how revenue composition is made up and where other exposures may be.” He pointed out that the tech sector generates 60% of its revenues outside the United States, compared to 48% by companies that make up the S&P 500.

Cybersecurity Stocks Among Early Winners

Some obvious areas that could fare well under Trump’s administration would be cybersecurity stocks. Also, a Charles Schwab report noted that consumer spending on technology-related items, “such as smartphones, apps and software,” should continue. Further, the “business sector needs to start spending more to upgrade their tech infrastructure.” Rodney Nelson, an analyst with Morningstar, wrote in a stock analyst update that “the software business model is highly resilient, particularly as companies migrate to annuity-like business models that coincide with sub-revenues.” He highlighted Salesforce (CRM) as an example.

Brewer cautions it’s still early and “there aren’t a lot of specifics” on which to make solid decisions. “We’ve been overweight in tech all year and continue to be,” he said. “It’s a combination of attractive valuation metrics and positive momentum that’s led us to position the sector the way that we have. We don’t think the election has caused any changes to the positions.”

— Read Post-Election, Where Can Active Managers Add Alpha? on ThinkAdvisor.