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Beware of ‘circus sideshow’ in tech stocks

By Cameron Micallef
 — 1 minute read

A global fund manager has said parallels between the tech rally of today and the dot-com crash of the early 2000s are “more similar than people would like to acknowledge”.

Fund manager Liam Nunn of Schroders believes the current market is looking very similar to a market fall just two decades earlier.

The dot-com crash between 1995 and 2001 saw the growth of internet-crazed stocks, with investors pouring money into businesses with no track record of profits.

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While certain companies went on to change the world, including Microsoft, many of these early adopters to the internet failed to capture the required market share, going bankrupt and sending the market into a spin.

Fast forward two decades, Mr Nunn cautioned investors that the same sense of “crazy” euphoria that sparked the tech bubble could be happening again.

“Personally, I think [the market] is more similar to the tech bubble than people would like to acknowledge,” he said.

Back in 2020, the main driver for a tech bubble was not the memorable companies that crashed, but instead strong core businesses with investors chasing similar returns in other less profitable companies, Mr Nunn said.

“I think it’s surprising when people think that the FAANG’s (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) having attractive fundamentals makes it different from the tech bubble,” he explained.

“The top 10 largest tech stocks in January 2000, they were good businesses.”

However, when investors look back on the tech bubble, they remember purchasing IPOs based on fundamentals other than whether or not the business was profitable or had cash flow to survive.

“The truth is market indices, the tech indices, were driven by genuinely high-quality businesses,” he said.

“The crazier side of the tech boom, that was the circus sideshow, but it was the high quality that was driving the market.”

Drawing a parallel between 1999-2000 and today, Mr Nunn highlighted the same “circus sideshow” where investors were still in peak buying phase, prior to the bubble popping.

“It’s not impossible to say the same thing could be happening today. We are not short of circus sideshows craziness to rival the Pets.com of 1999-2000,” he said.

“You’ve got cryptocurrency mania left, right and centre, you’ve got the Reddit retail trading phenomenon and you have Tesla at something crazy, that is larger than the entire global automotive industry.”

Pointing out that in hindsight these trends are easier to spot, Mr Nunn said it can be messier to spot the trend while living through it.

“But I don’t think we are short of any of the craziness of the tech bubble,” Mr Nunn concluded.

 

Beware of ‘circus sideshow’ in tech stocks
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