Past performance is not indicative of future results.
The principle is true across all markets, but investors in stocks would be wise to apply it to the large technology companies that have raked in huge returns during the historic bull run.
Companies like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Netflix earned their own acronym (FAANG) because of the outsized contribution their sector has made to investor returns during the more than nine-year rally. Their leadership was showcased prominently last year as the S&P 500 maintained a record streak of daily gains without a 5% drop.
But disappointing news from the past two earnings seasons has challenged their leadership status, from Facebook’s miss on active users in Q2 to Apple’s soft guidance for the all-important holiday quarter.
Now, as markets settle down after a tumultuous October, investors who’ve taken profits on tech stocks should look to invest them elsewhere, according to Alicia Levine, the chief market strategist at BNY Mellon Investment Management, which oversees $1.9 trillion in assets.
“I just don’t see large-cap tech regaining its former leadership role, and it’s sort of a trap now,” Levine told Business Insider.
Levine is further advising investors to curb their enthusiasm about marketwide gains heading into the new year. 2019, she says, is going to be a more typical year, in which expectations for earnings growth peak early and decline in the following months. While she’s bullish on market returns for the next six to nine months, Levine warns that painful losses may also lie ahead for investors.
She recommends healthcare stocks, including health maintenance organizations, or HMOs, which provide insurance for a fixed monthly fee.
This pick was informed by the widely expected outcome of the midterm elections: Democrats recaptured the House, and Republicans maintained their Senate majority. The implication of this result is that a repeal of the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — or big cuts to Medicaid are unlikely.
On Tuesday, voters in Idaho and Nebraska opted to expand access to their Medicaid programs for more low-income earners, in line with similar decisions taken by 34 other states and Washington, DC, under the Affordable Care Act. Pharmaceutical stocks will benefit as Obamacare becomes more institutionalized, Levine said.
The sector, along with biotech, has been battered in recent months. Their selloffs should limit their downside if lawmakers ramp up efforts to regulate drug pricing, Levine said.
These sector rotations that Levine recommends could be daunting for people who have profited from the boom of tech companies during this bull market. They include investors in the several growth mutual funds that own these stocks and the cohorts of workers who buy on autopilot through their retirement plans.
“People don’t know what they own,” Levine said. “And when the selling starts, it’s indiscriminate.”
These popular tech stocks have recently been plagued by data and privacy scandals, from Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook to the Google+ data breach. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have taken notice, and they pose another risk to the sector’s unbridled growth.
“There’s a sense that winter is coming, that there will be regulation, and there’s an appetite both on the right and the left for this,” Levine said. “You could see this being something that both a Democratic House and the administration would have an interest in.”