FANGMAN Stocks Are Not a Bubble, Pleads Goldman Sachs

This time, it’s different, say the strategists. So we’ll take a look.

In the bewildering wilderness of the most hyped Wall Street acronyms, we’re going to stick to FANGMAN – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google’s parent Alphabet, Microsoft, Apple, and Nvidia – for the special moment. And the special moment is that the Nasdaq, or more loosely “tech stocks,” closed today at a new high.

But don’t worry. With regards to tech stocks, no matter how high they’ve soared, there is no bubble, based, believe it or not, on fundamentals, Goldman Sachs strategist Peter Oppenheimer and Guillaume Jaisson pleaded in a note, cited by Bloomberg. And the fun is going to continue, the said. And it’s different this time:

“Unlike the technology mania of the 1990s, most of this success can be explained by strong fundamentals, revenues and earnings rather than speculation about the future.”

“Given that valuations in aggregate are not very stretched, we do not expect the dominant size and contribution of returns in stock markets to end any time soon.”

“Leading tech companies today have become very large in terms of market value, but that reflects the significant growth of technology spending and its ability to displace other more traditional capex spending.”

So tech will continue to dominate, they argue, as everyone will have to buy it, including retailers as they try to escape the brick-and-mortar meltdown by shifting to e-commerce. And then there’s the whole huge promise of AI. They add:

“This ‘snow balling’ effect is similar to what was experienced during the industrial revolution where one technology led to another and caused traditional industries to spend more on technology to survive.”

Yes, Y2K comes to mind.

So let’s take a look at the non-bubble in the FANGMAN stocks. Here are their basic data as of Monday evening: Market capitalization, price-earnings ratio (P/E Ratio), annual revenue growth, annual revenues for the last full year reported, and price-to-sales ratio.

Market Cap,
Annual revenue growth 2017 Revenue,
Price-to-Sales Ratio
FB $562 32 47.1% $41 13.8
AMZN $797 210 30.8% $178 4.5
NFLX $156 243 32.8% $12 13.3
GOOG $783 48 23.7% $111 7.1
MSFT $774 56 5.5% $90 8.6
AAPL $935 19 6.7% $229 4.1
NVDA $156 44 40.6% $10 16.1
Combined: $4,163 $669.0

A few things stick out:

Combined market cap of these seven companies, at $4.16 trillion, is between the GDP of Germany ($3.47 trillion) and the GDP of Japan ($4.94 trillion). That enormous market cap gives them enormous financial power and resources that allow them to buy anything and possibly anyone for any price, and Goldman Sachs wants to get its slice of that pie.

We saw a demonstration of this principle today. Microsoft’s planned purchase of GitHub for $7.5 billion – $7.5 billion, and no one even raised an eyebrow about the amount! – shows that these companies share one thing in common: Money is no objective because of their inflated – I mean, fundamentally sound – market capitalization.

The P/E ratios range from 19 for Apple – reasonable for a “growth” company with 15% to 20% revenue growth, but Apple only squeezed out 6.7% – to 210 for Amazon and, gloriously, 243 for Netflix. But there’s truly no bubble here because triple-digit P/E ratios of huge and mature companies have become one of the new normals.

Annual revenue growth looks good except for Apple and Microsoft, which sport revenue growth in the miserable single digits, despite continued acquisitions of other companies for billions of dollars.

The formerly crucial price-to-sales ratio – investors were looking for something between 1 and 2 – completely blew through the roof, with three companies sporting double-digit price-to-sales ratios. No one even bothers to mention the ratio anymore because that would be just ludicrous because, in order for the price-to-sales ratio of Netflix to drop to, say, 3, its market cap would have to shrink by 77%, or by $120 billion.

So it’s better to not even mention these things anymore and instead talk about the promise of AI and how these platforms are going to take over the world as we know it, and how their share prices and market cap are going to double over the next year because that’s what FANGMAN stocks do, don’t you get it?

Of the seven companies, junk-rated Netflix is a tried-and-true mechanically effective cash-burn machine. But no problem. Given the company’s market capitalization, the junk-bond market, which is in peak-bubble mode, is eager to feed it huge amounts of cash. Read…  Junk-rated Netflix Borrows $1.9 Billion, Most Ever, in “Drive-By” Bond Issue, to Burn $3-$4 Billion in 2018, Debt Soars to $8.4 billion

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  128 comments for “FANGMAN Stocks Are Not a Bubble, Pleads Goldman Sachs

  1. Night-Train says:

    Well, as long as it’s different this time…. Oh! Wait! ……. Never mind, I thought I heard an echo.

    • RepubAnon says:

      Two words: Dot Com

      • van_down_by_river says:

        one word: devaluation

        are stocks overvalued or is currency overvalued and those holding it starting to panic out of their currency holdings?

        Your recency bias gives you the impression that your dollars still have value and it should take fewer to buy AAPL – but your impression is wrong.

        There will be no stock correction, only a continued and merciless destruction of the currency. Buy whatever you can for whatever it costs because the price is just going up. Cash is trash.

        • Tg says:

          It appears that YOU are the one suffering from recent bias I’m afraid.

        • RagnarD says:

          Stocks can still be valued based on ratios, though.
          That is, the value of the stock is based on the income in dollars/currency. And while I agree we are seeing a devaluation of currencies, it doesn’t expalin the huge blow it the ratios of the “income in cash” vs the “price of the stock”. One of them is inflating and the other is pretty static.

      • Lee says:

        Don’t you mean:

        Dot CON?

  2. Álvaro (from Spain) says:

    Two thoughts:

    – “Markets” are rewarding Facebook for the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

    – “Invisible hand” has decided that 26 million Github accounts are 7.5 billions worth. That means that each Github account costs $288. I’m sorry, invisible hand, but that doesn’t make any goddamn sense.

    • fajensen says:

      Well, there is indeed a lot of stuff stored on Github. Commercial and Open Source. Most developers love Git and they all love distributed versioning because it really works well. Stuff that maybe should not be on Github exactly may end up in private repositories because globalised dev-teams still need to deliver stuff and they won’t using whatever the sucky Rational- or Worse- product they are officially forced to use by their employer.

      Maybe someone like the NSA did not like the possibility that someone like maybe Jack Ma would buy out Github on the Chap 7 auction, clone the whole database to China and quite possibly find that he also gets the source code to F-35, a lot of CISCO stuff, and maybe a couple of nuclear weapons physics simulators thrown in as a “bargain”?

      They contact Microsoft, which previously helped out with making Skype communications going through the USA unencrypted. Microsoft is now owed a favour worth 7.5 Billion USD (on top of whatever they got for Skype).

      It’s not like MS needs Github, they have their own versioning “ecology” – that everyone hates, of course – and they will – like they did with Skype – make everyone hate Github.

      • van_down_by_river says:

        “Most developers love Git and they all love distributed versioning because it really works well”

        Many of us “love” lots of things. I love chicken mole but I wouldn’t pay $7.5 billion or even $288 for it.

        No matter, stocks will continue to rocket higher because there is so much currency sloshing around the globe desperate to purchase anything of any value before the currency becomes worthless. The S&P 500 will likely surpass 3000 in the next month or two and targets will be immediately raised to 3500 for year end.

        Based on the return you can earn on investments, all assets could be considered overpriced. But, based on the fact that the push to devalue currencies is accelerating, assets are underpriced.

        This time is different because there is a worldwide push to drastically devalue major currencies and wealthy people are unloading their cash for whatever they can get – those are the cold hard facts.

        • fajensen says:

          How about not paying anything for something you like, except the time invested in learning the tool? All those developers does not pay to use Git.

          Git is free. It sorta-kinda needs a Git Server, but not really, this is a convenience. Github is a convenience, it saves some weeks work in setting up a reasonable central server for a development team and tools for managing it. It also saves the bandwith and electricity to run it.

          Git all by itself will function as long as there is at least one computer to run it on. Git can merge shared repositories as long as those repositories can be seen by the other parties.

          It does not need a permanent internet connection to version and merge software. Memory sticks, although bothersome, would work.

          That kind of flawless functionality (for free) is the value that developers care about.

          Now we have someone, Microsoft, experienced in the software business paying quite a lot for a replaceable convenience function that they could build themselves.

          IMO, this can only be because there are many other reasons than “business”. The amount shelled reflects the importance of those reasons.

          Many developers will probably even move their existing repos over to Atlassian’s BitBucket “private” or “open source” plans, just because they hate MS out of general principles (Moving a repo is easy with Git. Just an import to the new repository, and a config change, basically).

          Microsoft is a really dumb organisation made with very smart people, but, even they must know this is a volatile and transient business they are buying.

          It’s like paying to buy a well-run Chinese restaurant. All the good staff immediately moves to the new one, started by the very Chinese person that you bought the first one from! You are now left with the dum-dums and your business is tanking, while the other guy spins up his next great venture to sell to some new sucker .

    • Jon says:

      I have a github account and LinkedIn as well
      Don’t really use a lot

      • Arizona Slim says:

        Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of LinkedIn requests from people I’ve never heard of. I’m ignoring them.

        Anyone else experiencing the same thing?

        As far as I’m concerned, LinkedIn is one of those been-there, done-that things. Like MySpace and Google+.

        • d says:

          I get pestered by them all the time yet I dont have one and have never visited the site or whatever it calls itself.

          I suspect it is a mater of whose @mail lists you end up on.

        • Quack says:

          who the frick is LinkedIn?

  3. Tim Morgan says:

    What fascinates me is lack of any discussion of trust-busting.

    Some of these stocks have market shares incompatible with competitive principles, and would certainly draw the ire of Adam Smith were he with us today.

    Yet there’s no mention of breakups along the lines of Standard Oil or AT&T – even when there seems evidence that excessive market power is harmful. Regulation is contemplated, but that’s always second best to cutting market power.

    Also, don’t be too hard on analysts – fundamentals matter very little in markets wholly determined by CBs.

    • subunit says:

      When was the last time an antitrust case was pursued in the US? It seems like they’ve abandoned this sort of enforcement action entirely.

      • Tim Morgan says:

        Quite so.

        Indeed, it is arguable that we abandoned market economics altogether during GFC I – eliminating the penalties for failure (by rescuing banks which should have gone under), and keeping afloat zombie businesses, thus crimping ‘creative destruction’.

        Moreover, how, in an age of ZIRP, are we supposed to operate a capitalist system without real returns on capital?

      • blindfaith says:

        Look at the ownership….central banks like SNB, BOJ and likely our own FED in secret, big names and big untouchable names like Buffett, Besos, Schmitt. Look at who is getting served by them, Amazon alone received 99% of the income from the US government…including cloud services and supply contracts, the web commerce business is nothing. Facebook and Google supply the government with your data freely and without safe guards.

        How can you tell the difference between all of them when they serve each others needs, sit on the board of directors, or the door revolves from ‘enterprise’ to government and back to ‘enterprise’ on a regular basis with full understanding of rules and regulations, and enforcement? Look at the ‘revolving turnover’ at the SEC alone. Everyone is in bed with everyone else except the general public, and the general public is not just asleep, the are brain dead but loving their portfolios jumping up and up and up and up.

      • polecat says:

        Well .. with virtually ALL of the grifting CONgress on the take, how would you expect ANY pushback … ?? Seems as though ‘regulation’ never existed !

        Welcome to Mordor !

      • van_down_by_river says:

        AMZN will likely merge with the government and the Fed to form one all seeing, all controlling overlord. All you work for and all you consume could come from and go to this one all enveloping and controlling power. Just remember, you gave up without a fight.

        AMZN should buy GOOG, WM and the 5 large banks – would be a good first step.

    • Gershon says:

      Yet there’s no mention of breakups along the lines of Standard Oil or AT&T – even when there seems evidence that excessive market power is harmful.

      Go to open secrets dot org to see which donors (corporations) own “your” elected Republicrat duopoly representatives. Hint: none of these clowns work for you or the public interest, which is how almost all of them become multi-millionaires during their “public service.”

      • Debt Free says:

        The NAR (National Association of Realtors) is the largest single campaign donor. It explains a lot of what you hear in the media and from the politicians.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      So who do you think is going to do the trust-busting? Anyone in the US? Nope. Not happening. Maybe the EU will try, and then the US will pressure it to back off.

      • RangerOne says:

        Do you think the lack of busting is less an issue if will and more an issue of it being easy to do nothing?

        What I am trying to say is, because in general these new companies have largely lead to people paying lower prices for products, the potential pain of future monopolies by some like Facebook or Amazon as easy to ignore and their is no public outcry to force a station that would devalue their stock and thus hurt wealthy investors.

        The information and advertising base of many of these new companies may be making it easier to ignore the problems we are creating down the road.

        • van_down_by_river says:

          Oh that’s right, monopolies always lead to lower prices don’t they. We can trust AMZN to give us great prices after they have bought up every other retail option – Bezos is just so swell, I’m sure he will always give ya a great deal.

      • Debt Free says:

        In the U.S. we are locked in a corrupt feedback loop where the vested interests buy politicians, who then do their bidding. D vs. R is just a sideshow; look at who funds the campaigns.

        The solution will be for the people to do as little business as possible with the likes of FANGMAN.

        • Rates says:

          “The solution will be for the people to do as little business as possible with the likes of FANGMAN.”

          Muppets are useless. That’s why companies, politicians, etc don’t care about them.

        • JZ says:

          The solution is to limit government power. Power invites corruption. The goods guys are either competed out by the corrupted ones or they turn into corrupted ones. But people give government power and they think by VOTING, they can use the power against others they don’t like. So I guess the true cause of corruption is democracy? I wonder why the green lady in new york is called “Liberty” but NOT “democracy”.

        • Rates says:

          JZ, are you serious? These guys are huge monopolies. Who’s gonna tackle them on if not the government.

          The real solution is that people should limit their wants. People want things, so companies grow super big. That necessitates a big government to tackle these big companies and that creates a corrupt government which then gets utilized by the next generation of big companies, which then starts the cycle anew.

          Goldman Sachs, please do God’s work and throw muppets to the wall. Their delusion is truthfully nauseating.

        • JZ says:

          Rates, I am serious. I understand once a company becomes monopoly, it is very difficult to break the monopoly without government coercive power to break them. But once you give government that power, there will be socialpath to be attracted to that power and use that power to collect fees ones way or another from these monopoly wannabes and they will collide against the mass. I seriously think a “nobody can do anything coercive” system is better than “mass voting coercive” system since the “coersive” power will in the end be corrupted to work against the voters. Reason is simple, elites are elites because they outsmart the mass
          eventually. The existence of coersive power will make them more powerful. The assumption of the mass can use
          voting to use coersive power against elites only back fires.

        • Rates says:

          Yeah, but you haven’t addressed how monopolies would be broken either if you have small/no government. There’s never been an occasion in history where a monopoly is broken by some other monopoly or company in the absence of government. After with no government, a monopoly will act like one since it will control the resource allocation of its affiliated companies.

          The key is to prevent the creation of monopolies in the first place and that means limiting demand.

          There’s a price to everything. As long as the magical thinking of “I want X, but i don’t want to pay the price” persists, nothing will ever change.

    • Maximus Minimus says:

      You can probably still get some trust busting if you paid more than than the cartels. In practice, there is no hope, no political will and no pressure to do anything.

    • andy says:

      So many on tbis thread call these companies monopolies. Are they?

      If Fb, Goog, Apple, Amazon, etc are gone tomorrow I would not even blink. Not needed or replacements are readily available.

      On the other hand try lowering your utility or cable/internet bill.

  4. Maximus Minimus says:

    Just got a Huawei phone. As slick as anything Apple can produce. I would say Apple is in as much trouble as when cheap MS DOS PCs came out.

    • intosh says:

      I very welcome the Chinese competition in the mobile phone space. Apple and Samsung have been shamelessly milking consumers as of late, especially Apple.

      • Kent says:

        Apple produces all of its phones in China. So it is really a Chinese company IMHO. If I were Apple, I would buy Huawei and let them be the brand they sell for the lower end of the market. Just make them slightly less functional so folks have a reason to move up if they want to.

      • JZ says:

        Huawei is Chinese military. And it is YUGE. Huawei phones are doing the Chinese gov biddings. Neither US nor Chinese government trust each other’s phones and switch’s and communication networks. This is beyond “consumer” competition. It is about which government can control which population.

      • Auld Kodjer says:

        Did it come with bonus points for your Social Credit Score?

        • Lee says:

          No, but you can get a Huawei pre-paid mobile Y7 with $40 of credit for A$99 here.

        • d says:

          Ozzies are getting shafted again, Probably by other Ozzies.

          kiwi gets same phone with no sim in the supermarket for 29.00 NZ $ sim costy 5.00 $ with 3.00 $ credit.

          Of course you need to accept that you are also giving the CCP chinese access to everything you do on that phone and the links to all other peopel and data the phone interacts with.

    • Ethan in NoVA says:

      I wouldn’t do anything sensitive on that phone. Baseband firmware backdoors?

  5. peter says:

    But look on the bright side folks. Start a business, anything will do. Do loads of PR and hype and then they’ll buy you out in a few years for billions and you’ll be rich. Might be a worthless loss making business, but doesn’t matter once you get bought out. So we all benefit from the spoils in the long run…….

    • intosh says:

      Or better: write a whitepaper, open a website and do an ICO.

    • MC01 says:

      In 2009 a group of private investors bought Skype from eBay for $1.9 billion. Two years later they sold the company to Microsoft for a hefty $8.5 billion in 2011 money.

      I am no programmer, so I don’t know if they have some groundbreaking and/or potentially very profitable new technology Microsoft covets, but I read the financial news and last year GitHub had annual revenues of $150 million. Even assuming in 2018 said revenues have exploded and hit $200 million, the $7.5 billion Microsoft will pay for GitHub are 37.5 times annual revenues. If revenues are still stuck at $150 million, Microsoft is paying the company 50 times revenues.

      So if you are going to sell out, sell out to Microsoft, since they have taken “overpaying” to the very next level.

      • Jeremy says:

        I’m a software dev. Github is central to the entire software industry these days. On the (rare) occasions when that site goes down, the entire industry grinds to a halt (not an exaggeration).

        MSFT is apparently one of the larger customers of Github. My guess is that this is strategic, in the sense that if one of their competitors bought them, it would be a potentially dangerous situation for MSFT. As in: sneak peak behind the scenes at all of their private assets.

        • R2D2 says:

          Git and Github are 2 different issues. Many companies are running their own Git servers; that doesn’t mean they are Github customers. If all companies were dependent on GitHub, their revenue would be in billions.

        • R2D2 says:

          I mean Github’s revenue would have been in billions.

        • Jeremy says:

          MSFT IS a Github client. They actually host much of their development there. I was also surprised to learn that.

        • intosh says:

          GitHub is tremendously strategic in the software development domain. Now MS can directly target this huge community by up-selling their software development products and services (e.g. Azure) with a tighter and prioritized integration with GitHub, not to mention monetizing the account info, in combination with what they have on LinkedIn.

      • Maximus Minimus says:

        Microsoft had to much money on it’s hand and to stingy to part with it in the form of dividents, so it bought Skype. I still can’t see synergy with the rest of the company, so it might end up as another writeof. It’s a wrong platform to advertise business software.

        • Gandalf says:

          The synergy is that iOS has Facetime built into it and Apple has refused to make a Windows compatible version. Microsoft Windows itself had squat, zilch, nada to compete with Facetime, because Skype was not their product.

          Video phone calls over the internet are not just a fad, they are becoming a necessary part of modern high tech life, entering into regular corporate usage for business meetings, video conferencing, etc. News stories are reported through video phone calls. It’s now used for every sort of communication purpose that can be enhanced by visuals, not just to remotely visit with your girlfriend/wife/kids, etc.

          Microsoft could have continued to leave Windows without its own video phone call software and left Skype, the overwhelmingly dominant Windows video phone call app as an independent company (risking its takeover by another competitor like Google), or it could have tried to start its own software version, which would have probably meant licensing lots of technology patents owned by Skype or others anyway.

          Skype owns 50 such patents

          So, no matter what, you can see that Microsoft needed to protect Windows and keep it relevant by supplying it with a video phone call app like iOS has, and no matter what it was going to cost a lot of money to do this because Microsoft was quite late to the party and it was almost certainly bidding against Google.

          Skype is also the dominant video phone call app for Linux and Android, which is now a YUGE cudgel that Microsoft has over those competitors instead of the other way around.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      “Start a business, anything will do.”

      Blockchain currency startups have done really well, and you don’t have to wait years for the spoils – take it off the top as the “investors” sign up …

  6. Harvey Cotton says:

    I would like to see Goldman’s analysts long and short positions in these stocks before I believe a word they publish publicly.

  7. Pete says:

    People have been selling Tesla and Amazon and Netflix and recommending gold for 5 years — so who’s living in a bubble???

    New ideas & startups fail in stupefying numbers ever year…sometimes destroying the lives and finances of those entrepreneurs.

    Schumpeter has never been more prevalent, most unfortunately. Look at retail — look at Ford Motor. Tesla’s gone from $20 to $300 while Ford’s gone from $15 to $14. Amazon’s gone thru $1,000 — Sears from $50 to $2 and Target, in much better shape, from $80 to $80…PJS

    • Debt Free says:

      It’s a Ponzi scheme.

    • JZ says:

      This is a classic. People use prices to judge values. Most people here are at least trying to express their opinions about the “value” proposition of these businesses. I wish luck for the the people who confuses price with value

  8. blindfaith says:

    The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important.

    The company starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the salespeople end up running the company.”

    Summarized more succinctly…

    “Once you have a monopoly, new products don’t help you, only better marketing. Soon, marketing people are running the company, and what made them great is gone…”

    From Steve Jobs in his last interview.

    Now ask yourselves, why is Amazon and Netflix getting into the movie business. You can ask the same question about everyone of these companies hunting for a something to hold on to so they can stay in front.

    In the end, it is selling you. You are now the product. And, no one seems to care.

  9. Drango says:

    “…and Goldman Sachs wants to get its slice of that pie.”

    That pretty much says it all. What passes for financial analysis these days is nothing but a financial services company (Goldman, BofA, etc.) issuing a report that just happens to support that financial services company’s latest business venture, which the financial press duly publishes. How many of CNBC’s stories begin with “Bank of America says” or “A Wells Fargo report finds?” It’s like reporting a cigarette company’s study about the health benefits of cigarettes as news. Guess what? Cigarettes are good and good for you! Nothing cures cancer like the smooth taste of tobacco.

    • Kent says:

      The media is made up of private companies with private investors. Those private investors are also investors in Finance and Tech firms. There should be no expectation that the media will ever say anything negative about one of these companies.

      Growing up, I remember 60 minutes reporting lots of negative stuff about American companies. That never happens now. But there used to be laws governing the ownership of media companies. Those were gutted under the Reagan administration.

      • Gandalf says:


        Saw one a few weeks ago on 60 Minutes about Boston Scientific buying fake Chinese Marlex (Chevron, the corporate owner of Marlex, had flat out refused to sell it anymore to Boston Scientific for use as an implant in humans) for its line of mesh implants.

        You know, the mesh implants now generating all those 1-800-SUE-IMPLANT TV ads and billboards

        Boston Scientific used to be a really good company with innovative products. Something changed in the mid to late 2000s. I think they are gonna be toast soon.

  10. Gorbachev says:

    The only thing I can see missing from your chart Wolf is

    the amount of free cash flow and net cash they have on hand.

    I am sure that plays a uuuge part in their stock price.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      It varies. Apple and Netflix are at opposite ends of the spectrum in this table. Apple generates and has a lot of cash. Netflix burns a lot of cash and has to borrow a lot of cash so that it can burn more.

      • MCH says:

        So, if Apple just buys Netflix, everything will balance out… ha ha.

        FANGMAN, really? I guess they need to stuff in a few names to make up that acronym, but who did they leave out I wonder. Because that acronym might not fit so well with another letter. Ok, S might fit. At least it’s a little better than FAANG.

  11. Paulo says:

    This statement brought a chuckle: “Unlike the technology mania of the 1990s, most of this success can be explained by strong fundamentals, revenues and earnings rather than speculation about the future.”

    Then, I thought of Tesla and self-driving, everything. No worries, only 3.8% unemployment. Honest. Honest. Don’t worry, Trade Wars are really only discussions. Honest. When we look back on 2018 people will just shake their heads and ask, “How on earth_________”?

  12. Gershon says:

    Goldman has a long and inglorious history of touting “investments” for the muppets, then secretly taking the other side of the trade, such as when they sold bundled toxic-waste mortgage-backed securities to their “clients” while betting against them back in 2008.

    • .Frederick says:

      That’s true and so does the carnival barker Jim Cramer in my opinion Remember him shilling for Bear Stearns Just prior to their collapse ? I sure do

  13. Robert_D says:


    I am not an accounting-type person. I see that you put the basic data in the chart. Is there a standard accounting term for some kind of “standard” loss figure that can be included?

    Some companies never get out of loss operating mode. I think I have read that Amazon and Netflix have never turned a profit, but I am probably wrong about that.

    Twitter and Tesla, not on the list, have never earned a profit, I believe.

    Maybe you can’t have a P/E ratio unless you are earning a profit ?

    Sorry for my dullness, math and science are my background, but I have zero experience or interest in the accounting world.

    Maybe losses do not matter in the FANGMAN universe . . . .


    • Wolf Richter says:

      I think you’re mistaken. According to GAAP (our Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), Amazon and Netflix have been reporting profits for years. Amazon is cash-flow positive even. Netflix is a cash-flow sinkhole. GAAP gives companies a lot of leeway on how to account for expenses v. investments — Netflix is using and perhaps abusing those rules.

      Amazon owns about 40% of the “cloud” (via its AWS) which is hugely profitable. It doesn’t need to make money on retail.

      • Rcohn says:

        AMZN is not making money and has never made money on its retail operations.
        If Nflx used a realistic amortization schedule for its content,the losses would be mounting up

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        What are the implications? Will Amazon likely stay in retail? Why?

  14. Gerard Croce says:

    The FANGMAN companies specialize in platforms for collecting personal data and using that data to build artificial intelligence machines. We may not like it, but AI is an unstoppable wave which will alter society profoundly and irreversibly. The money will keep pouring into these companies because the traditional value metrics do not capture the value of exponential data collection as a business asset. It’s less a factor of these companies “selling” personal data, rather, they want to lock in their own customers and develop new emerging products and services for them.

    Most of these companies will want to develop and acquire their own media outlets in order to better control their customers.

    Assisted Reality and Virtual Reality will be crucial technologies. It’s important for investors to learn as much as possible about where technology is headed, AI, AR, VR, IoT, robotics, etc.

    IMO, the reason Apple is so low on the P/E scale is that although they have a strong platform, they are just not as inherently “evil” as some of the others, and are on the treadmill of releasing new and better hardware every year, which is a tough business.

    “AI is the most important technology of our time, while early detection is the most important medical challenge of our time. Incredible breakthroughs in AI are making it possible for doctors to see disease earlier and better understand it.”

    • Kent says:

      I’m an IT guy and have long been fascinated by AI. What is being done today is not AI in the traditional sense, it is machine learning. In ML, computers take vast amounts of data and attempt of find strong correlations between pieces of data. Algorithms are constantly being tweaked to improve the results.

      But there are some very serious problems in the field (and you can find a lot of discussion about this in the net from the academic community). Most of the time the results are not reproducible on different datasets (same metadata, different actual data). The results are just correlations and don’t speak to causation. Many times adding in new fields (changing the metadata) the whole correlation just goes away.

      Many companies are beginning to abandon their efforts and you can find discussions of a coming “AI Winter”.

      • Gerard Croce says:

        Yes, I think I read somewhere that the current AI model is just a form of “curve fitting” and does not consider what caused a set of conditions to arise. Even so, if we can get enough raw data from people, like diet, exercise, DNA, adverse medical events, etc. it might be of great benefit in medical diagnosis and potentially extend people’s lifespan. Wouldn’t it be great if our grand kids lived 20+ years longer than we do?

        This particular period in history must be like other times when humanity was on the verge of a major development, and most people could just not anticipate the enormous changes because they could not wrap their minds around the new concepts. Most of AI is a mystery to me.

        As an investor, I think the big winners in AI will be the companies which can dedicate long term resources and can buy intellectual property and startups. I think Apple will continue to have strong cash flow and expertise developing their own silicon and small devices. They’re already working on clinical trials. I’ve read that Nvidia is supposed to be strong in image processing for medical diagnosis.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          With all due respect, Mr. Croce, what makes you think our grandkids will be able to afford to live another ’20+’ years, when the availability of truly remunerative work for the now-massive world population of average people (let alone for the elderly struggling to survive now) continues to decline in the face of technology’s prime directive (reduction of demand for human labor) and the ability of digital communications to allow what used to be considered criminal financial market/currency manipulations, quickly-usually with no serious consequences? Our human wants continue to outstrip our human needs, and our can-kicking on many, many fronts continues. Better luck, and day, to us all.

      • GSH says:

        Thank you. There is no AI technology breakthrough. Same hype as in the ’60s. Turns out Big Data is mostly garbage in -garbage out.

      • 2GeekRnot2Geek says:

        Well said Kent! What the general population thinks of as AI,and the real definition of AI are light years apart.

    • Jim Strom says:

      This is what people are missing. It’s not just the leveraging of unfathomable masses of valuable data, it’s the synergy of the elements some of these companies are creating; lines of business and technologies that can not only complement each other but lead to disruptive innovation. The stock prices are also about expected future growth, and there are not formulas to predict that. Opportunities exist.

    • Lenz says:

      Before the Global Financial Crisis we had hype technologies like Stereo (3D films) It was used to sell higher priced TV with the feature at a time when the price for a digital LED TV was dropping, remember buying my first TV packaged with Avatar (arguably the best quality native stereo shot film) Where did that technology end up? Most Marvel films are shot classic mono and do a post conversion to cheat stereoscopic feel. Native 2 camera stereo films are much rarer now. In many ways the technology failed to replace traditional mono movies and 3D TV sales have plummeted.

      To put it in perspective, the main drawback was wearing 3D glasses, and for some of us visually impaired, it meant glasses on glasses. In comparison, a pair a glasses is a lot less invasive then the bulky vr headsets.

      I’ve done work in both stereo and VR. The techonolgy for VR is at the very least 20 years out and that’s assuming the head sets become much lighter.
      Its obviously GPU intensive if you keep it all in-real-time-engine and Nvidia has a vested interest in creating hype for it, especially since the boost in their GPU sales has diminished drastically with bitcoin price drop and lowered demand for their bitcoin farm products, also GPU intensive.
      There’s also questions to the computing power required to run a realistic photo-real virtual reality simulation required to sell the experience.
      I could go on, but i’ll stop here.

      I’m under the impression that at the moment, VR is just a hype word to lure investment in this part of the tech/entertainment field prior to a recession. Bring your money, there’s “growth” potential.

      Similar arguments can be made for AI and Self Learning.
      Example: why are we pushing for self driving cars with all the unknown variables in a driving situation, and yet have not implemented autonomous piloting in Maritime vessels and Aviation. Wouldn’t those two be the first to be fully autonomous? Controlled environment vs urban settings. Sometimes I wonder if we lack some common sense?

      I’ll leave you with this link, the tittle seems appropriate.

    • Shawn says:

      ” The money will keep pouring into these companies because the traditional value metrics do not capture the value of exponential data collection as a business asset.”

      I’ll bet I can find these same sentiments uttered at various times throughout post-industrial history. Traditional financial metrics do matter whatever silicon valley hype says. Inflation is now well above 2% and the Fed is not only behind the curve but also behind an 8 ball. Yes, indeed, things are very different this time but perhaps not the way you think.

  15. R2D2 says:

    I remember in 2000, every little company with 5 employees on its site described that the market for its products are in multi and hundred billions, and how their share price has no limit. Of course many of those companies went busted, and their share prices went from $100-$200 to zero or pennies within a 1-2 years.

    However, I’m sure it’s different this time :).

  16. Rates says:

    I wonder how many people are suffering from this:

    TLDR. The guy tried to quit paying for a Google service. Google promised to stop billing him but continues to do so anyways.

    There’s something unreal about some of the numbers above. Like how consistently most adults are increasing their clicks on advertisements.
    I live in the West Coast, but right now we need a HUGE earthquake that will sink these assholes, because that’s the only thing that can stop them.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Part of the equation is that Google et al. find ways to pay publishers like me less and less and charge advertisers more and more. And they keep the difference. They’re in total control of this process.

      The Buzzfeed boss complained about that loudly not too long ago:

      • Rates says:

        In other words, Google is acting like all previous monopolies. Big surprise. The US is like a banana country when it comes to regulations.
        But in this case, I truly believe there’s a twist. Google, FB, etc are no doubt CIA/FBI operations.

    • R2D2 says:

      Add GoDaddy to the list. GoDaddy keeps charging you for services they don’t provide till you call them and shout at them. GoDaddy is more like a parasite than a company.

  17. Paul says:

    Another key consideration for valuation assessment:

    With over 100 million users, Netflix can massively increase net income from future subscription rate increases. Valuations are forward looking but might be consider more reasonable by some when factoring this in.

    This is common business model. Look at what VRBO looks like now with very high “processing fees” that didn’t even exist during the time period where they were gaining market dominance. Also, look at Amazon Prime rates steadily going up.

    • Jim Strom says:

      What Netflix has going is a combination of two things: deep and current understanding of what kind of entertainment people prefer, and the ability to produce content tailored to those preferences. Eventually this creates a strong feedback loop. The question is whether they can consistently create quality product.

  18. Mean Chicken says:

    Goldman’s free advice is priceless!

  19. JFP says:

    As always, thanks for your thoughtful writing on this issue. However, I think it’s a mistake to conflate all these companies together. I’m in media, and Facebook and Google are just dominating advertising. All the money is flowing to them, and the trend shows no signs of stopping. Similarly, Amazon is a juggernaut in both cloud computing and e-commerce. in turn, these companies are taking the money and investing heavily in products that have high future potential. Just think of Waymo, which is far, far ahead in self-driving cars. I was around in 2000, and there is almost no similarity in the situations.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I was around in 1999 and early 2000 and the similarities are stunning. P/E ratios of 200 for mature companies??? Double digit price-sales ratios??? A startup boom much bigger than anything we’ve ever seen before in terms of valuations??? The list goes on and on, and all the hype about advertising… Turns out, ad spend evaporates without warning when companies feel a downturn coming because that’s the easiest budget item to cut.

      This article is about valuations and stock prices, not survival of the companies in the table, BTW.

      And people who fervently believe (like you?) that this time it’s really different? Oh lordy, I’m feeling nostalgic for February 2000 :-]

      • JFP says:

        My position is actually a little more nuanced than just “this time it’s different.” I break it down like this:
        1. I think you can justify higher valuations for quasi-monopolies like Google, Facebook and Amazon. I also don’t think they are mature companies given all the new products they are working on.
        2.However, they are the exceptions. There is definitely a bubble and a lot of ridiculously priced start-ups. I live in Silicon Valley, and I’m surrounded by them.
        3. Personally, I’ve moved a lot of money to cash over the last few years, because I like to hedge my bets

        • Wolf Richter says:

          My position is also a lot more nuanced :-]

          One thing that is different is liquidity. After years of QE, there is a huge amount of it. Some of it is ready to go into the market at the next dip. So I don’t expect the kind crash packed into a short time that we had in 2000-2002. I think this will take many years to work off. My feeling is that valuations will just zigzag lower, with some major ups and downs, for a long time.

        • d says:

          Mine also but the black swan to that is some group of default liquidity drain incidents.

  20. Ian says:

    That will be the end of github then. Skype gets worse every time you open it.

    • Bobber says:

      …and that’s why Microsoft acquired them. The point is not to make money on the acquisition. The point is to preserve current profits on current products. If you can shut down a competing product, you’ve won. It’s clear Microsoft viewed GitHub as a productive work space that could have spawned many competing products.

      Why else would you pay $7.5B for a site with $300M revenue? The payback takes the form of “synergies”, a nice work for eliminating competitive productive capacity.

  21. Alex says:

    After watching Fox “News” this morning with Kudlow I am seriously thinking of canceling cable (PS VUE) again. And the quality picking are getting slim on Netflix.

  22. nick kelly says:

    The oddest to me is Amazon. The fact that you order on line doesn’t alter the fact that it’s a warehouse and trucking outfit. Why is it even called a tech…because it uses computers?
    It’s sporting a tech start- up PE of 250, which can only be justified if it is not just on the verge of the ‘next big thing’, but a very PROFITABLE ‘next big thing.’

    And what could that be? Pizza delivery by drones? Driverless delivery vans? Don’t send those to the wrong hood.

    Is Netflix as bad? Well at a glance, worse, because it loses money but you can imagine a scenario where it IS the next big thing: by taking out TV.

    Amazon has to move physical stuff, Netflix just has to move electrons.

  23. Ambrose Bierce says:

    I am a poor judge of this because to me a tulip is just another flower

    • Boatwright says:


      And let me add this: Remember AOL, Gateway, HP, IBM, Lycos,etc.?

      To use on the boat, I just bought a “smart”phone on eBay for $50. So far it seems to be every bit as functional as my $400 iPhone, and it’s waterproof with an unbreakable screen.

      AI, self-driving cars, flying cars, delivery by flying robots, etc. – miracles promised soon all suffer from the real problem of intractable complexity. Maybe someday, but meanwhile most of these bloated corporations better start looking over their shoulders at the Asian Giant.

      • Kent says:

        I truly believe the purpose of the tech hype industry is to make people believe that there lives will somehow be better in the future. Because if folks realized this is really as good as it gets, they might demand a little more from the powers that be.

        I’m going to a fusion-powered jet pack any day now!

        • Boatwright says:

          I’ve got my deposit down for Tesla’s solar powered flying car – comes with a coupon for a free trip to Mars too!

        • Duke De Guise says:

          Yeah, baby!

          We’ll party with Elon and lotsa hot chicks at his Martian bars and clubs!

          Don’t be a chump: earth’s just for the Prolz!

        • Tom T says:

          Kent “fusion powered jet pack” eh? Your bottom will glow in the dark!

  24. Prairies says:

    I am curious where the tipping point of share buybacks to actual profits from physical sales was in previous bubbles. We are seeing the social price being paid in politics and “populist” or “anti-establishment” options tend to swing elections. Even housing is tipping globally, how will Wall Street and California keep this train on the tracks when everyone in the world sees the game at hand.

    There has to be data from history to give some idea, this can’t be a one off experience.

  25. ScottS71 says:

    Like the price to sales ratio, thanks. But as you say, ratios dont count anymore. Wolf, your ratio of media hype to crypto was spot on. You nailed the peak media hype which was followed a buying frenzy which was followed by negative media hype, which correlated with a collapse.. The WS positive/negative media sentiment ratio; Hype to price ratio.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “positive/negative media sentiment ratio; Hype to price ratio.”

      I love that. I noticed the deafening media hype on Tesla has peaked and has decidedly turned south. Something Tesla longs should keep an eye on :-]

  26. raxadian says:

    Considering how at least some of those companies are junk debt zombies… or how I love to call them “junkies”.

    Yeah I totally believe it!

  27. Debt Free says:

    Only three of the FANGMAN companies pay a (miniscule) dividend. Facebook and Google have different share classes that keep control in the hands of the insiders.

    What a scam. As a common shareholder, you get nothing!

  28. Boatwright says:

    An old banker I used to know, referring to real estate speculators, called it “betting on the increase”. His old fashioned community S&L was taken over by high flyers who believed in the infinite properties of leverage. They went to jail and his retirement stock in the bank turned out to by worth nothing too.

  29. lenert says:

    Free Mickey! Only 23 more years to go.

  30. Kasadour says:

    The data chart cuts off the page on my smart phone. I suppose I need to upgrade to a smarter smart phone.

    These companies rely on eyeballs. Zillions and zillions of them.

    The future has arrived? We are in an espidoe of Black Mirror – humans v digital technology as money piles up on one side, reality on the other side. Pretty soon we will all lose our eyesight and KAPUT. There it goes.

  31. Lenz says:

    A few people here hopped on the bandwagon of crediting Ai,VR,AR emerging tech for the future growth of these companies but aren’t these tech companies trying to brake into traditional markets.

    8 years ago I used to date a Mexican flight attendant, and to keep in touch, bought countless phone cards to talk to her. Recently she got in touch and when i was supposed to call her, went to the local corner store to buy the usual phone cards. The teller looked at me as if i was crazy. Those cards have been put out of circulation years ago, apparently.
    Of course we set up a Facebook video chat instead.

    These tech companies are disruptive for sure, but is the valuation correct?

    Those phone cards were $10 a pop and since they stole minutes i’d have to buy numerous ones. Facebook video chat is “free” to me. Is advertising providing the same revenue?

    Feels like the current tech moto is : “we’ll create a billion worth of profits but by destroying four billion from existing businesses”

  32. Matt P says:

    Of the stocks, Netflix is definitely the outlier. Were any of the others on the list that bad off at any point? I doubt it.

  33. baldski says:

    Yahoo finance gives the following trailing P/E’s:

    FB 31
    AMZN 275
    NFLX 289
    GOOGL 63
    MSFT 82
    AAPL 19
    NVDA 44

    They are not cheap.

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