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The Tech Sector Soars in 2020

The Tech Sector Soars in 2020

Brian Colello: Technology performed in line with the market in Q4, but has it been a significant outperformer to the broader market in 2020? Over the past 12 months, as of Dec. 7, tech is up 43% year to date versus 18% for the broader market. Over the past three months, again ending on Dec. 7, tech was in line, up 11%, while the broader market was up 12%. And as of Dec. 7, the median technology stock was 19% overvalued, in our view. This continues to be one of the frothiest valuations for the tech sector we've seen since 2007, and we have a handful of names that are at least 40% overvalued versus our fundamental expectations.

Software has continued to do really well in 2020, and it's been minimally affected by COVID. Some tech firms have been countercyclical to the market and have been winners in the work-from-home trend. These are still great businesses, and we think remote working will likely continue to be adopted, which is good news for Zoom, Microsoft, DocuSign, and some others. But the median software stock is still 18% overvalued. And these work-from-home winners like Zoom and DocuSign are some of the most overvalued names that we see in our coverage universe.

Cybersecurity is also seeing a boost in spending, and this was before the latest hack of SolarWinds. So, there's tailwinds for cloud vendors like Zscaler, Okta, and CrowdStrike. Again, however, valuations are a bit frothy. Across tech hardware names are fairly valued, but generally, we don't see a lot of wide-moat names in this segment. The higher-quality software semi and cybersecurity names are a bit expensive. A handful of undervalued names across our coverage include VMware, Intel, and Splunk, and we even point investors toward high-quality but fairly valued names like Salesforce and Microsoft.

As we look ahead to earnings reports in January, we're going to be keeping an eye on semiconductor demand in a variety of areas. We expect a recovery in automotive from the COVID-19 shutdowns earlier in the year. We'll see if data center spending is holding up well, and we'll look at Apple iPhone sales because this drives demand across a lot of the tech supply chain. In cybersecurity, we think that will be particularly interesting in light of the reported hack of U.S. government agencies. And in software, we're going to continue to look for any signs of deal delays or cancellations.

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