(Bloomberg) — Going against the smart money flow has been a winning strategy for Robinhood traders, at least when it comes to big tech.
Retail traders kept boosting their positions in technology megacaps, even as professional stock pickers trimmed exposure in the days before the start of an earnings season that could have halted the group’s rally. Yet embracing the uncertainty paid off: quarterly figures from Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. largely blew past expectations, showing the group has been thriving despite the the broader economy collapse.
The stocks, with the exception of Alphabet, are up at least 6% premarket, signaling the rally of at least 45% since the market’s March trough has further to go.
Both retail traders and large-cap mutual funds loaded up on 10 tech giants, including the so-called FAANG stocks and payment companies, between March and June, according to Deutsche Bank’s positioning data through last week, with mutual funds even pushing their sector exposure to near an all-time high. Since then, however, stock pickers have reduced positions to a level that’s in line with the 10-year average, the bank’s data show.
Robinhood day traders, however, continued to snap up tech growth stocks even as their exposure to cyclicals remained steady. Facebook and Apple are two of the six most popular stocks among Robinhood users, according to data compiled by Robintrack.net, which aggregates data from the brokerage but isn’t affiliated with it. About 929,000 accounts hold Facebook shares, and 578,000 hold Apple.
Nasdaq 100 futures jumped 1.2% premarket while futures on the S&P 500 are up up 0.4% as investors focus on next week’s earnings reports from healthcare companies like CVS and entertainment giant Walt Disney. Traders have largely shrugged off most of this week’s uncertainties; President Donald Trump’s notion Thursday of postponing presidential elections wasn’t taken seriously, at least in the options market.
Just take a look at futures contracts tied to the Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX. While options investors have been piling into hedges against volatility around the Nov. 3 vote, with anxiety laid bare by the premium on VIX contracts that expire around that date, the contour of the curve stayed muted afterward.
Indeed, it may be too early to prepare for that kind of scenario. After all, Trump has no power to change the date of the election by executive order and needs the consent of lawmakers, many of who have already rejected the idea.
Notes From the Sell Side
Dunkin’ Brands was upgraded to overweight at JPMorgan, which recommended taking advantage of a recent decline in the company’s share price. While shares are not far from recent peaks, “increased fundamental visibility warrants a share price even higher,” the firm wrote. JPMorgan added that the company’s recent results shows that “franchise economics have broadly stabilized” and are “reflective of a business not only poised for survival but to re-engage near term investments and growth opportunities.”
2U was upgraded to outperform from neutral at Credit Suisse, a move that comes after the company’s second-quarter results. The online education company “continues to show signs of solid execution and prudent expense management,” while also seeing a benefit from “the secular shift to distance learning.” That tailwind should continue “as more prospective students look to further their education during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Dropbox was downgraded to neutral from buy at BofA, which wrote that it had “less conviction” in the company’s near-term tailwinds. Benefits from the launch of the Dropbox app “may require more time to play out,” and analyst Ryan Gee is less confident that any lift in demand from more remote work “will materially change the opportunity long term.”
Sectors in Focus
Watch tech stocks after strong earnings from Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet.Expedia posted an 82% decline in revenue in the second quarter. Watch TRIP, BKNG, TCOM, STMP for a reaction.Ford said its second quarter operating loss was less than half the $5 billion deficit it had predicted. Watch GM, TSLA, FCAU for a potential reaction.Watch bitcoin-related names MARA, DPW, RIOT as Bitcoin continues to rise past 11,000.
Tick-By-Tick to Today’s Actionable Events
6:30am– CAT, NWL earnings6:45am– MRK earnings6:55am– CL earnings6:55am– UAA earnings7:30am– CBOE earnings8:30am– June Personal Income, Personal Spending8:30am– June PCE Core Deflator8:30am– 2Q Employment Cost Index8:30am– CVX earnings9:45am– July MNI Chicago PMI10am– July Final U. of Mich. Sentiment
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