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Tech Stocks Roundup: Apple Brings Back Mask Mandate, Closes Stores Amid Covid-19 Surge

Check out the latest news and performance numbers from the top technology and FAANG/MAMAA stocks like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and more.

Meta Platforms  (MVRS) - Get Meta Report, formerly Facebook, has banned seven private surveillance companies from its platform after the company said 50,000 Facebook users were targeted by those firms.

Earlier this year, Meta banned NSO, the Israeli firm that pioneered Pegasus no-click spyware.

"The 'surveillance-for-hire' entities we removed violated multiple Community Standards and Terms of Service. Given the severity of their violations, we have banned them from our services," Meta said in a blog post on Thursday.

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The company noted that there are three phases of targeting from the banned companies: reconnaissance, engagement, and exploitation. It also alerted the victims who the company believes were targeted.

Meta says it conducted a months-long investigation before taking action against the seven companies. The offending companies targeted people in more than 100 countries on behalf of their clients. The providers are based in China, Israel, India, and North Macedonia.

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"We’re encouraged to see our peers and governments begin to draw attention to this threat and take action against it," Meta said. 

Investors Want Facebook's Board to Change Amid Criticism

Shareholders want Facebook to restructure its board so that the company can better address issues of harmful content among others.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund and Illinois State Treasurer have reportedly filed eight proposals overall for the tech giant's review, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal, which cited the Investor Alliance for Human Rights.

Facebook's board is presently designed in a way that gives Founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg a lot of power. Zuckerberg, who has served as Facebook chairman since 2012, controls about 58% of the voting shares, according to a regulatory filing.

In May, the social media company rejected two proposals intended to diminish Zuckerberg’s control over the company, including eliminating the special class of super-voting shares that gives Zuckerberg a controlling stake in the company.

The company continues to face regulatory scrutiny over its content moderation practices.

This past week, Instagram Chief Adam Mosseri was at Capitol Hill to answer questions from the Senate Commerce Committee's consumer-protection pane. It was investigating the company's internal research findings about the photo and video sharing app that indicated that it worsens body image issues for some users.

Meta Platforms has said the service is making changes to make the platform safer for teenagers. 

TheStreet Quant Ratings rates Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) as a Buy with a rating score of B+.

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Here's a breakdown list of more technology and FAANG/MAMAA stocks to watch right now based on their performance over the past week:

Apple Brings Back Mask Mandate and Closes Three Stores After Covid Infections

Tech giant Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report on Wednesday closed three stores across the U.S. and Canada temporarily due to a rise in internal cases as employees tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a media report. On Tuesday, Apple re-introduced mask mandates and capacity limits at all of its U.S. stores. Bloomberg News first reported the return of the mandate, citing the group's concern with rising Covid cases. 

The Cupertino, Calif., company had previously dropped its nationwide mask mandate on Nov. 5, noting "positive trends in vaccinations, testing, and case counts." Since then, however, Covid cases have begun to surge due to the potent omicron variant.

TheStreet Quant Ratings rates Apple as a Buy with a rating score of A.

Amazon Experiences Another Outage

A week after an outage that took down Amazon Web Services  (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report for hours, the cloud servers were briefly down again, along with other popular platforms such as Twitch and PlayStation Network. On Wednesday morning, Downdetector reported that over 15,000 users reported loading problems and other outages on these platforms. A popular streaming service for gamers, Twitch published a tweet saying that the company was "aware of several issues" and was "hard at work fixing them."

The outage seemed to be stemming from Amazon, which acquired Twitch in 2014 for $970 million. The issues were later identified as stemming from internet connectivity issues in two regions in Northern California and Oregon and, by 11:14 a.m. EST, Amazon Web Services published status updates announcing that the two issues have "been resolved and the service is operating normally."

TheStreet Quant Ratings rates Amazon as a Buy with a rating score of B.

YouTube Subscribers Could Lose Disney, ESPN, and Other Channels

Alphabet's Google  (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report is in heated talks with Disney  (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report to keep its programming on YouTube TV, but if discussions go awry, the partnership and the ability to stream the shows could end. YouTube TV told its subscribers in a blog post and email that the company is in talks with Disney to keep prices equitable.

Google employees who refuse to get vaccinated will soon see their pay docked and eventually be fired, the company reportedly told employees. According to an internal memo viewed by CNBC, Google had given its workers until Dec. 3 to declare and upload proof of their vaccination status. Those who refuse to comply and do not apply for a medical or religious exemption would start getting contacted by human resources in December. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai first announced that Google would be requiring employees' mandatory vaccination in June.

TheStreet Quant Ratings rates Alphabet as a Buy with a rating score of A.

Microsoft Shares Dip 

Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report shares slumped lower earlier this week as investors dumped big cap tech stocks ahead of the key Federal Reserve policy meeting while tracking the impact of the newly-identified Omicron variant. Microsoft is one of a small group of stocks -- along with Apple, Google, and Nvidia  (NVDA) - Get NVIDIA Corporation Report that have powered nearly 70% of the S&P 500's total returns over the past six months. 

However, with the Fed looking to quicken the paring of its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases, and investors accelerating bets on near-term rate hikes, heavyweight tech stocks like Microsoft are starting to fall out of favor heading into the final weeks of the trading year.

The Street Quant Ratings rates Microsoft as a Buy with a rating score of A+.

Netflix Cuts Prices In India

Monika Shergill, vice president of content for Netflix India  (NFLX) - Get Netflix, Inc. Report, confirmed that the streaming giant has substantially lowered the price for all four of its price tiers, Deadline reports. The Basic plan has been cut to $2.62 (199 rupees) from $6.58 (499 rupees), a drop of 60%. Disney+ Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video have all raised their prices in India lately.

Netflix debuted in India in January 2016 and last year released 40 new originals, including 15 series and 13 films, while also offering American hits such as “Stranger Things.” But, the streaming company still has some catching up to do.

TheStreet Quant Ratings rates Netflix as a Buy with a rating score of B.

What Jim Cramer Says About DocuSign

DocuSign Inc.  (DOCU) - Get DocuSign, Inc. Report benefited from being a ‘stay at home’ play during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Its shares topped out at $290.20 in 2020 and rose to $314.76 just a few months ago. After reporting disappointing fiscal third-quarter results on Dec. 2, however, reality started to set in. The stock was down by about 57% from that recent peak on Dec. 3. “If you can't make a clear estimate of a company's real worth, it is best to simply leave those stocks for others to play with," said Real Money expert Paul Price.

On a recent episode of the Mad Money TV Show, Jim Cramer said he looked at 50 of the major cloud stocks and what he found was not good. Cramer believes that cloud stocks are still floating too high. Some of the cloud stocks were pandemic plays like DocuSign and Zoom Video  (ZOOM) , which are in less demand now than a year ago. 

TheStreet Quant Ratings rates DocuSign as a Hold with a rating score of C-.