Is Netflix the chink in the Armour of the FAANGs?
Comment of the Day

July 18 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Is Netflix the chink in the Armour of the FAANGs?

Thanks to Niru Devani for this article, which I’m sure will be of interest to the Collective.

A long term subscriber to FullerTreacyMoney, Niru began her career in the financial markets 30 years ago as a trainee fund manager. After spending 14 years in the fixed income sector, she moved to managing commodities and global macro funds. Niru now manages both hers and her families' pension funds and other savings. She also likes to trade. She says, ‘My enthusiasm for my profession is even stronger now and I enjoy the fact that I am constantly learning new things.’

Netflix fell by 14% in after-hours trading yesterday following their results announcement which were below expectations. The company reported subscriber growth of over 5.1 million, one million below market forecast although the headline earnings per share at 7% beat consensus forecasts. Netflix also warned that it was seeing stiff competition. The Nasdaq 100 index also lost 125 points from the highs made just a couple of days ago.

Of all the FAANG stocks which comprise Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, Netflix has always looked very similar to the dotcom stocks from the 1998/2000 period. As Eoin has commented on before, it relies on junk-rated debt for funding and the barriers to entry in its market are low. In the last five years, it has been enormously successful and this year alone, it had more than doubled before yesterday’s fall. However, it is burning a lot of cash and Amazon is also trying to steal its market share.  

The FAANGs have dominated the market since the presidential election and the technology sector now forms 25% of the S&P 500 index. Momentum investors and passive funds have significant allocation to the FAANG stocks. For example, there are 145 ETFs that are long of Amazon and 450 ETFs long of this group.

The group has wobbled before and has been on the verge of a correction, the most recent episode being during Facebook’s data privacy problems earlier this earlier. Sceptics have tried to call the end to the ascent of these stocks and of the technology sector in general. But they have defied the bears. We know that the technology sector per se has huge growth potential in the medium and long term. However, Netflix looks very extended relative to the trend mean even after this reaction post its results. More broadly, it has certainly focussed even more attention on the members of this select group.

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