Technology stocks and sector-related exchange traded funds have been enjoying one of their best years yet as the continued broad market rally fueled the continued demand for growth names.
Year-to-date, the tech-heavy Invesco QQQ Trust (NASDAQ: QQQ) increased 32.4% and the largest tech-related ETF by assets, Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK), advanced 42.6%. In comparison, the S&P 500 climbed 25% so far this year.
For most of the over decade-long bull market rally, investors have favored shares of rapidly growing, relatively pricey companies over their more low-valued counterparts, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The tech gains came despite concerns like controversies over how big tech companies have handled user data, antitrust hearings on Capitol Hill and U.S.-China trade tariffs targeting consumer devices. The sector strength reflects the continued confidence that technology companies will be able to keep delivering strong sales and earnings growth even if the broader economy shows signs of cooling off.
“This is where the growth is over the long term, so you’re always going to get a pretty good bid” for technology shares, Katie Nixon, chief investment officer of Northern Trust Wealth Management, told the WSJ.
The Semiconductor Surge Fueling Tech
Semiconductor manufacturers as well as the companies that create devices to make chips are among the best performers. For example, Applied Materials Inc. soared 90% this year, Tokyo Electron Ltd. jumped 85%, ASML Holding NV increased 81% and Lam Research Corp. more than doubled.
“They are the companies that are enabling the semiconductor manufacturers to make denser chips with more transistors on them,” John Freeman, vice president of equity research at CFRA, told the WSJ. “They hold the keys, so they hold the pricing power at this point.”
Electronic payments-related companies are have also stood out as investors attributed the outperformance to consumers’ increasing reliance on the technology.
“If you would have told me 20 years ago I was going to pull out my Visa card to pay a one-dollar parking meter on a square in Madison, Wis., I’d have said you’re nuts, but now that’s the only compensation they accept,” Tom Plumb, president and portfolio manager at Plumb Funds, told the WSJ.
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