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Tech Stocks Roundup: Facebook Tops Distrust Ranking Among Users

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

China's largest search engine, Baidu  (BIDU) - Get Baidu Inc. Report, has launched its own version of the metaverse by letting customers use digital avatars to interact virtually and visit virtual locations on its new app XiRang, according to media reports.

XiRang means "Land of Hope" as reported by ABS-CBN News.

Tech giant Baidu's revamped virtual reality app XiRang, which can host up to 100,000 users at a time, is a virtual "creator city" that can host meetings and other events.

"Other locations recreate attractions such as China's Shaolin Temple," Nikkei Asia reported.

The Beijing company made the announcement at an event it claimed was "China’s first metaverse conference" in front of Baidu Co-Founder and Chief Executive Robin Li and an audience of 3D avatars. 

Amid a deteriorating China-U.S. relationship and government crackdowns, the 10 richest tech magnates in China lost a lot of money in 2021.

According to an analysis done by Bloomberg Intelligence, the $80 billion in wealth lost by the country's tech elite is the biggest one-year loss since 2012. In total, over a quarter of their collective wealth was lost in large part due to the companies they run suffering staggering losses.

Colin Huang, who founded the Chinese e-commerce site Pinduoduo  (PDD) - Get Pinduoduo Inc. Report, topped this list. In 2021, he lost two-thirds of his fortune — or roughly $42.9 billion — after Pinduoduo shares fell by nearly 70%.

Companies like Pinduoduo and Alibaba  (BABA) - Get Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Report struggled not only with waning user interest after pandemic highs but also with ongoing pressure from both Chinese and American authorities. Just this week, the Chinese government ruled that foreign company ownership can’t exceed 30% while President Joseph Biden also passed an executive order barring trading of certain Chinese companies.

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

Meta

Facebook, operated by Meta Platforms  (FB) - Get Meta Platforms Inc. Class A Report, tops the distrust rankings when asked -- "How much do you trust each of the following companies or services to responsibly handle your personal information and data on your Internet activity?" 72% of respondents said they don't trust Facebook much at all. Chinese video app TikTok (63%) took the second spot followed by Instagram (50%), WhatsApp (53%), Youtube (53%), Google (47%)  (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report, Microsoft (42%)  (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report, Apple (40%)  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report and Amazon (40%)  (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report.

Real Money contributor Doug Kass writes in his 15 Surprises for 2022 that he thinks value stocks will materially outperform growth stocks. Get more of his trading strategies and read about what he thinks that means for Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix, Nvidia and Microsoft.

The metaverse will morph from hype to reality as more tech stalwarts such as Facebook, Apple, Alphabet-owned Google, and Microsoft heavily invest billions in this theme over the next year. We expect significant M&A activity on this front. Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives and his team remain “firmly bullish on tech stocks for 2022.”

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

TheStreet Recommends

Apple

Apple shares move higher this week as news that it will close all 12 of its New York City stores amid a surge in Covid infections fails to dent the stock's push towards a $3 trillion market cap. The decision follows the return of a customer mask mandate earlier this month for the world's biggest tech company. Apple shares, which are up nearly 40% so far this year, first passed the $2 trillion mark in August of 2020, just two years after it reached the $1 trillion threshold. It was worth $100 billion in May 2007. 

Last month, the Nikkei Asia business newspaper said iPad production runs are about half of their normal pace over the past two months, owing to Apple's decision to prioritize chips for its new iPhone 13. Bloomberg, meanwhile, said Apple is instructing vendors to prepare for tamer holiday sales thanks in part to Omicron concerns, delivery delays, supply chain shortages, and the broader impact on consumer spending from the highest levels of domestic inflation in more than 30 years.

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

Amazon

While many love Amazon's Alexa's ability to answer silly questions, the virtual voice assistant's preprogrammed suggestions can also turn dangerous. This week, the company had to update its Alexa devices after one responded to a 10-year-old girl's request for a "challenge" by suggesting that she put a charger halfway into an outlet and then touch the prong with a metal penny. Doing so can cause a current to short-circuit and start a fire.

Amazon is reportedly contending with fading interest in its Alexa voice-controlled smart speakers. In some years, 15% to 25% of new Alexa users were no longer active in their second weeks with the device, Bloomberg reported, citing internal data. However, last year, Amazon’s internal analysis of the smart-speaker market determined it had “passed its growth phase” and estimated it would expand only 1.2% annually for the next several years.

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

Google

One way to attract customers is to invest in them. That’s what Alphabet’s Google and Microsoft are doing to boost business for their cloud services, as they seek to catch up with market leader Amazon, The Wall Street Journal reports. Google has put $1 billion in financial-exchange company CME  (CME) - Get CME Group Inc. Class A Report, $450 million in home security company ADT ADT, and undisclosed amounts in Spanish-language TV network Univision Communications and the health-technology startup Tempus Labs, the Journal reports.

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“After taking a closer look at the connected television advertising market, we believe Google's YouTube will be one of the main beneficiaries in this fast-growing business,” Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi wrote earlier this month. “We have increased our total Google advertising revenue estimate,” he added, leading Mogharabi to increase his fair value estimate from $3,400. 

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

Microsoft

Move over, Peloton. Microsoft’s tablet the Surface Pro is the latest consumer gadget to get some not entirely welcome publicity. After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 9-0 to the New Orleans Saints, quarterback Tom Brady threw a Surface Pro tablet over his shoulder. As you might expect, it quickly became a Twitter meme, according to Geek Wire, as some users called it the best throw of the entire game.

Microsoft is an official partner of the NFL, and coaches and players have been using it to go over plays since 2013. The Surface has an overall low share of the personal computing market at 3.4%, versus Apple's iPad’s 64.4%, according to market analysis company Enlyft.

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

Netflix

Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Netflix, Inc. Report stock has retreated from its late October high of around $690 per share to below $610. Some investors are worried that the streaming giant's stock will continue to drop. But others are wondering whether Netflix shares will reach new highs in the coming months, making right now a good opportunity to buy. Wall Street analysts are starting to feel bullish about Netflix. They're setting increasingly higher price targets for its stock.

Evercore ISI analyst Mark Mahaney has set his Netflix target at $710, keeping his buy recommendation. This price target opens up an opportunity to achieve an almost 20% return on Netflix shares, compared with today's trading price ($605). If Netflix stock does reach $710, it will be the company's all-time high.

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