Ever since Covid-19 took hold, the technology companies that make working from home possible have seen their stock prices soar.
From March 12 to the end of last week, Alphabet Inc. — Google’s parent company — saw its stock price rise by about 15%. Microsoft Corporation’s stock price rose by about 28% over the same period. Both companies provide cloud computing and video conferencing technology that has become indispensable to remote workers during the pandemic.
But can these and other tech stocks continue their upward trajectories once we’ve finally turned a corner on Covid-19? Hans Albrecht, a portfolio manager with Toronto-based Horizons ETFs Management (Canada) Inc., believes they can.
“I absolutely don’t think this is a flash in the pan,” said Albrecht, who manages three technology ETFs for Horizons.
Covid-19, Albrecht said, has created a “more pressing need” for companies to begin their digital transformation by adopting technologies that make them more efficient and competitive.
Felix Narhi, chief investment officer with Vancouver-based PenderFund Capital Management Ltd., said Covid-19 has merely expedited a technological revolution that was inevitable.
“These structural trends that might have been happening over the next five or 10 years have now been accelerated,” Narhi said. “Things that were going to happen anyway are happening way quicker.”
Slack Technologies, Inc., the provider of a digital communication platform for business, has been another apparent beneficiary of Covid-19, with its stock price rising almost 32% since March 12.
Businesses that started using platforms like Slack as a result of Covid-19 are unlikely to abandon the technology when the pandemic is over, Albrecht said.
“I don’t think a lot of these things will go away just because we emerge from [Covid-19],” Albrecht said. “I think some of these things will be here for a long time.”
That, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that all the companies that have benefited from Covid-19 will continue to do well after the pandemic passes.
Zoom Video Communications, Inc. — the provider of a video-conferencing platform that has come under fire for its spotty privacy record — saw its stock price skyrocket by about 38% from March 12 to the end of last week.
But stocks like Zoom, Narhi suggested, are the “bubble versions” of the working-from-home tech stocks that have taken off over the past six weeks. Zoom has a market capitalization of around US$40 billion, but had only about US$600 million in revenue in 2019, he said.
“The math to justify that stock price is almost impossible, in my opinion,” Narhi said.
Zoom’s growth rate would have to be “crazy” for a long period of time to justify that valuation, he said. “Ultimately, this would be a great short, in my opinion.”