Trading Places with Tom Bowley

Has The Technology Run Ended?

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I suppose the answer really depends on your level of expectation and your time frame. If you're looking for technology to outperform the benchmark S&P 500 over the next few months the way it did throughout much of 2020, then you'll likely be quite disappointed. I believe the combination of a health crisis misunderstood as a financial crisis AND the massive bubble in treasuries drove technology prices into the stratosphere during 2020. Many component stocks simply ran too far too fast. 2021 has been "catch-up" for the rest of the market as rotation has ripped technology stocks.

There's nothing wrong with technology stocks. The earnings reported last quarter were absolutely spectacular, but it was a great big case of "buy on rumor, sell on news." The stock market has a long history of overdoing things. Stocks are overbought and then they become oversold. Then it's rinse and repeat. Those cycles can be amazing or devastating, depending on which side you're on. The good news is that earnings are going to soar in many technology companies as we move into the second half of 2021 and into 2022. Valuations will pick back up again, but there may be further short-term pain first.

Let's take a look at the relative surge that we've seen in technology over the past decade, especially during 2020, to gain some perspective:

Technology was outperforming the S&P 500 in a steady relative uptrend just prior to the pandemic in 2020, which enabled the NASDAQ 100 ($NDX) to outperform. Technology's representation in the S&P 500 and NASDAQ 100 is 23% and 42%, respectively. Technology has a much bigger impact on the NDX, which is the primary reason we've seen underperformance in the NDX (and QQQ, the ETF that tracks the NDX) in 2021.

When the pandemic began forcefully in March 2020, treasury yields plummeted as demand for treasuries exploded and that historic yield drop created astounding valuations in the high-growth technology area. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and everything is crystal clear now. But we need to constantly learn from history.

In the very near-term (next few months), we are going to see additional inflationary reports that will unnerve even the biggest technology bulls, myself included. While I do not believe inflation will be a concern longer-term, the media is going to hype and run with this story over the summer, so you might as well be prepared. The May CPI and PPI reports will be released June 10th and June 15th, respectively. Mark those two dates down on your calendar right now. A part of me really wants to see continuing relative weakness in technology shares the next few months to perhaps drive that XLK:$SPX relative ratio all the way down into the relative channel reflected on the above chart. That could set up for another string of solid quarters ahead. No, I don't believe the technology run has ended. Far from it. But I do believe the current relative weakness needs to be respected.

I recently provided a one-year relative chart that I believe shows, in rather clear fashion, the relative cycle of technology performance since the pandemic began - and one of the industry groups helping to inflict pain on the sector:

While the recent relative bounce in both the XLK and the DJUSSW has been nice, it's honestly not all that convincing at this point. As those inflationary reports draw near, don't be at all surprised if the TNX rises again and technology takes another relative leg lower. There could very well be more relative pain ahead for a group that couldn't have enjoyed 2020 more.

Monday is Memorial Day and our financial markets will be closed. I want to thank all of those who have sacrificed, and those who continue to sacrifice, in order to provide us the freedoms we enjoy in this great nation. EarningsBeats.com will be starting our annual Spring Special on Monday, lasting through Tuesday, June 15th, featuring our best annual deal of the year. Please be sure to check that out. In addition, as a great big THANK YOU to our entire free EB Digest newsletter community, I will be providing an UPDATED Short Squeeze ChartList link to all subscribers. This is a ChartList featuring 42 of the most heavily-shorted stocks (based on % of float) that could be used to monitor short squeezes. Last week, several meme stocks like Gamestop (GME) and AMC Entertainment (AMC) soared. Should that continue, opportunities will abound next week. If you'd like your copy of these 42 companies, and you're not already an EB Digest newsletter subscriber, simply CLICK HERE to sign up with your name and email address. There is no credit card required and you may unsubscribe at any time.

Happy trading!

Tom

Tom Bowley
About the author: is the Chief Market Strategist of EarningsBeats.com, a company providing a research and educational platform for both investment professionals and individual investors. Tom writes a comprehensive Daily Market Report (DMR), providing guidance to EB.com members every day that the stock market is open. Tom has contributed technical expertise here at StockCharts.com since 2006 and has a fundamental background in public accounting as well, blending a unique skill set to approach the U.S. stock market. Learn More
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