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Trendy-Tech Selloff: Rich Opportunity or Catching a Falling Knife?

Stocks in this article: MSFT NFLX FB TWTR

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The selloff in new tech momentum stocks such as Netflix (NFLX)Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) presents a buying opportunity for savvy investors, said fund managers who are predicting a rebound in their prices.

Yet others warned against catching a falling knife, as a lack of market momentum this year sees investors shun growth stocks in favor of their cheaper value peers.

The market is drawing sharp differentiation between old and new tech stocks, with Microsoft (MFST), Cisco (CSCO) and IBM (IBM) -- companies with solid balance sheets and well-established business models -- all higher for the year to date. Several analysts have re-labeled them value stocks, despite technology traditionally being viewed as a growth sector.

By contrast, Twitter, Facebook and Netflix are seen as trendy new-tech stocks, where traditional financial ratios mean less, as valuations are predicated on forecasting future social trends. These companies rallied hard -- especially in the second half of last year -- amid a backdrop in which momentum and optimism drove prices higher.

But as the rally enters its sixth year and concerns rise around correction risks, investors have re-orientated away from trendy names.

Warren Financial Service Chief Investment Officer Randy Warren views the selloff in new-tech stocks as a buying opportunity for investors who were unable to buy-in during their IPOs.

"You have to know what you're buying, as people who have too much in these stocks are hitting the panic button. But if potential investors sit on their hands, these stocks could come roaring back," he said in a phone interview.

Warren agreed it was difficult to judge when to buy-in, noting new tech-stocks always tended to trade at rich valuations. As such, he said these stocks should be viewed with a longer-term perspective.

Others are more circumspect. Wells Fargo chief equity strategist John Manley likened new tech stocks to pastel dresses, which could easily fall out of fashion after being the "hot thing" the prior season.

"This is the concern with cutting-edge tech that interfaces with the consumer, while the blue-chip tech stocks have established businesses, commitments and lower valuations," he said in a phone interview.

Manley agreed that traditional metrics were largely a moot for new tech stocks, noting valuations that seemed rich before the tech crash had been proven wrong as those stocks continued to rise.

"There's been a change in the backdrop and sentiment, though the (new tech) stocks aren't missing beats yet," the strategist said, commenting on their business models.

"The market just hasn't gone anywhere for the past 3.5 months and momentum stocks are feeling it -- these stocks are like sharks in that they can't stop moving," he said.

-- Written by Jane Searle in New York



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