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Tech Is Climbing Again. These Stocks Could Tumble if the Rally Stalls. – Barron’s

Some of the hottest tech stocks on the Nasdaq have taken a hit from fear over inflation.

Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

After a few months of steep ups and downs, technology stocks are rising again,  thanks to the latest reassuring commentary from the Federal Reserve about inflation and interest rates. The Nasdaq-100 index has rebounded 5.3% from its May 12 low and is approaching 14,100 points again. 

Still, investors should expect that the good times won’t last, and be ready to take advantage, according to JPMorgan.

The index, tracked by the $161 billion Invesco QQQ ETF (ticker: QQQ), has failed to break above resistance at 14,100 multiple times this year and many of its members are still showing negative momentum over longer periods. JPMorgan strategist Shawn Quigg says headwinds for tech stocks could last into the summer. He suggest investors buy put options on certain stocks in order to benefit.  

The trouble for tech stocks stems from concern about inflation.  As the economy reopens, many companies have been noting shortages of raw materials, parts, and labor as they report their quarterly results. All those factors tend to boost prices, putting pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to keep the economy from overheating.

Higher rates reduce the present value of future cash flows, which is particularly problematic for expensive growth names in tech because most of the money those companies will bring in is expected years from now. As a result, investors have favored cyclical value stocks—more mature companies better positioned to benefit from an improving economy. 

While JPMorgan economists expect that inflation peaked in April, the market won’t be able to confirm this until late June when the May data is released. If personal consumption expenditures for May show a continued increase, that could signal still more inflation is on the way, putting some tech stocks at risk of additional losses, Quigg wrote in a research note.

He looked at five popular technical signals––momentum for one, two, and three months and the 50-day and 100-day moving averages-––for the Nasdaq-100 stocks. He found that nearly 30% of Nasdaq-100 members are breaking lower, or are poised to do so, in terms of three to five of the signals, indicating negative momentum is still in place. The comparable figure for stocks in the S&P 500 is 15%, he said. 

After excluding the illiquid and volatile names from the list of Nasdaq names with negative momentum, Quigg recommends investors purchase July puts on Baidu (BIDU), Pinduoduo (PDD), Skyworks Solutions (SWKS), Qualcomm (QCOM), Okta (OKTA), Xilinx (XLNX), and Tesla (TSLA). Buying a put gives the buyer the right to sell the underlying asset at a stated price, making a profit if the stock’s price falls below that point.

Write to Evie Liu at [email protected]