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Tech Stocks Roundup: Facebook A Top Buy Amid Instagram Safety Push

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

The tech sector recently has been hit hard, but a year-end rally may yet be in the cards.

According to data from Bespoke Investment Group, the S&P has finished positive in December 74% of the time since 1928. 

Keeping an eye on standouts in the tech sector makes a lot of sense given their weight in the major indexes. That, of course, means many of these stocks will need to rally if the market is going to finish the year strong.

For the Action Alerts PLUS investment club, co-portfolio managers Bob Lang and Chris Versace say say they like the looks of Apple's  (AAPL)  5G upgrade cycle and they think the longer-term upside will continue to come as services revenue grows. Apple, part of the AAP portfolio, rose 10% last week. Get more trading strategies and investment ideas on Action Alerts PLUS.

Three of the top tech stocks to buy in December are Marvell Technology  (MRVL) , Dell Technologies  (DELL) , and Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook)  (FB) .

Marvell Technology, a fabless semiconductor company whose products are used in end markets including data centers, telecom carriers, enterprise networking, and automotive/industrial, is seeing momentum across all areas of its business, pointing toward continued earnings growth in coming quarters.

Marvell closed down 1.12% Friday despite early-day gains, after the company reported stronger-than-expected results for the latest quarter and topped estimates for guidance. For the fiscal 2022 third quarter ended Oct. 30, the company registered a loss of 8 cents a share, widening from a loss of 3 cents a share in the year-earlier quarter. The stock recently traded at $84.49, up 19%, after soaring 49% year to date through Thursday, and Goldman Sachs upgraded Marvell to buy from neutral.

TheStreet Recommends: How the Long Tech Rally Evolved

Dell has a broad portfolio of IT hardware, software, and services solutions that are in sharp demand, given how quickly remote work has taken over the business world. It’s a tech stock that is absolutely worth a look in December following the company’s recent stock split, which could attract new buyers, and the company’s spinoff of VMware  (VMW) . The VMware move has enabled Dell to significantly reduce its debt and has opened the door to offering investors dividends and share buybacks.

Meta Platforms stands out as an intriguing stock to look at in December given how far it has pulled back from its 52-week highs. With a forward price-to-earnings multiple of 23.15, Meta is one of the best values in megacap tech. And the company’s recent name and strategy change could be just what the stock needs to get going again.

In Q3, Meta Platforms reported a 33% increase in revenue to $28.3 billion even as the changes in Apple’s advertising platform hurt its results.

A clutch of 48 top global business leaders, including Meta Platform's Mark Zuckerberg, have sold shares in their businesses this year, driven both by stock-market gains and an increase in sales by some big holders, a Wall Street Journal report finds. This is almost four times the average number of insider stock sales clocked between 2016 and 2020 making this year's rise unprecedented with the most sales.

In August, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook received more than 5 million shares of Apple stock, worth more than $750 million.

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

Instagram's Head Answers Questions About Safety on Capitol Hill

Photo and video sharing site Instagram operated by Meta Platforms said the service is making changes to make the platform safer for teenagers. New features include taking a break to step away from Instagram, young people will be off-limits for tags or mentions by users who do not follow them, adding parental controls, and changing the way Instagram makes recommendations to this group of users.

Instagram has been focused on online safety for young users for years and the company believes that the industry will improve internally without intervention from the government, IG head Amad Mosseri said Wednesday. Mosseri was on Capitol Hill answering questions from the Senate Commerce Committee's consumer-protection panel looking into the Meta Platform social media site's own research showing that the app can worsen body-image issues for some users. 

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

Apple Lost Self-Driving Car Project Engineers; iPhone Production Drop

Apple has lost three engineers key to its ongoing self-driving car project to Silicon Valley rivals working on so-called "air taxis." Eric Rogers, who has been billed as Apple’s chief engineer for a radar system on the self-driving car project, left to join Joby Aviation  (JOBY) , an “electrical aerial ridesharing” company. Apple also lost Alex Clarabut, an engineering manager for the team’s battery systems group, as well as Stephen Spiteri, an Apple hardware engineering manager to Archer Aviation  (ACHR) , which is also trying to get into the air taxi game with a similar propeller-powered craft. 

The Nikkei business newspaper said Apple is likely to produce between 83 million and 85 million of its new iPhone 13 range before the end of the year, a tally that would fall around 20% shy of its initial target amid chip shortages and supply chain disruptions.

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

Amazon Slapped With $1.3 Billion Antitrust Fine; Company Faced Technical Issues  (AMZN)  has been slapped with a whopping US$1.3 billion fine by Italy’s antitrust regulator for crowding out its competitors by favoring third-party sellers that use the company’s logistics services. The regulator found that Amazon favored sellers in Italy that paid it to use its warehouse and delivery services, including by making them more likely to appear as the default option, or “Buy Box,” when consumers click to buy a product, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Amazon's cloud computing services provider was working late Tuesday to get all of its services up and running after resolving a network device issue that caused an outage and affected some of the biggest names in technology and thousands of users for hours. Among the tech companies reporting problems throughout the day were Meta Platforms' Facebook and Instagram, Zoom  (ZOOM) , Reddit, Salesforce  (CRM) , and Snapchat.

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

Netflix: Buy-The-Dip

Over the years, Netflix  (NFLX)  has returned some extraordinary gains to investors. If you had invested just $1,000 into its stock back in December 2016, you would be sitting on nearly $4,000 today. And if you had invested way back in May 2002, when Netflix debuted on the stock exchange for $15 per share, that $1,000 would have turned into a strong $40,000 by now.

Netflix saw some of its most impressive gains this year. In October, its stock hit an all-time high just north of $700 per share. But since November, the share price for the video-streaming stock has dropped, which presents an opportunity to buy the dip. "So throughout the quarter, the business remained healthy as it had been throughout the year with churn at low levels, down prior to the comparable periods, both in 2020 and two years ago, pre-COVID in 2019. So retention was very healthy," said Netflix CFO Spence Neumann during the company's third-quarter earnings call.

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

Google Indefinitely Delays Return-To-Office Date Amid Potential COVID Surge

Many of the largest U.S. corporations have pushed back the dates for requiring staff to return to their offices. While the policy change has been a repeating pattern throughout the pandemic, the spread of the new omicron variant and warnings of a potential surge this winter has again given companies reason to delay office return. Corporations like Google  (GOOGL)  and Uber  (UBER)  have announced indefinite delays for their employees to return to the office. Lyft  (LYFT)  has pushed office return back to 2023.

While the short-term and long-term impact of the omicron variant remains unclear, some companies are experiencing a rise in cases of COVID-19. 

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

Microsoft's Deal With Nuance Communications Could Be Killed By EU

The European Commission is reportedly taking a deep dive into Microsoft's  (MSFT)  proposed $16 billion takeover of the Australian transcription technology company Nuance Communications  (NUAN) . The EC’s competition bureau is querying Nuance’s customers and competitors to see what they think, according to the Reuters story. That’s the most extensive probing by an antitrust regulator since the companies revealed the deal in April, a knowledgeable source told Reuters.

The U.S. Justice Department and the Australian Competition Commission already approved the deal. The EC competition bureau has until Dec. 21 to clear the deal or launch a wider query. Microsoft and Nuance declined to respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

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

Cathie Wood of Ark Investment Purchased Almost 747,000 Shares of DocuSign 

Cathie Wood of Ark Investment Management purchased 746,964 shares of DocuSign  (DOCU)  as the e-signature company plunged this past week following its latest financial results. The stock cratered on disappointing billing numbers for the latest quarter. “We are lowering our fair value estimate for narrow-moat DocuSign to $244 per share, from $290,” wrote Morningstar analyst Dan Romanoff in a recent research note.

“We have adjusted our model based on near-term guidance, which reduces our growth forecast over the next several years." He added that “DocuSign delivered generally solid results, exceeding our above-consensus revenue and profitability estimates while falling meaningfully short on billings.”

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