The FAANG Stocks Remain Sharp Throughout Pandemic

On Jun 8, Alphabet, Inc. (GOOGL) said that Google will be adding new features on its map service to alert users about COVID-19-related travel restrictions. The announcement comes at a time when countries are easing travel restrictions and people are once again expected to plan trips.

Tech players, particularly the FAANG — Alphabet, Apple, Inc. (AAPL), Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), Facebook, Inc. (FB) and Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) — companies, have been playing a major role during this pandemic. While most industries have taken a beating due to the coronavirus outbreak, tech players have been one of the few to have not only survived the pandemic but also put up a great show.

Google Maps to Alert Travelers

Google is introducing new COVID-19 safety features in its Maps like transit alerts and driving alerts so that users can be notified well in advance if the route they are taking is impacted by coronavirus-related restrictions. The feature would be rolled out in Argentina, France, India, Netherlands, the United States and United Kingdom among other countries, the company said in a blog post.

In recent months, the search engine giant has analyzed location data from billions of its users’ phones across 131 countries to examine mobility under lockdowns and help health authorities assess if people were abiding by social-distancing and other orders issued to contain the spread of virus. Google has been one of the frontrunners in the global fight against coronavirus and has contributed substantially to help people during the pandemic.

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FAANG on a High

Tech companies have been one of the few that haven’t been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. FAANG stocks particularly have been leading the race. Once considered as nothing but risky high-growth tech stocks, FAANG stocks have not only outperformed during the coronavirus pandemic but also have emerged as the lifeline for millions.

One of the major reasons behind their success lies in the kind of technology each player provides — ranging from products and services that have been helping businesses recover quickly from economic downturns or allowing people to kill boredom at home or simply aiding in working and learning from home.

Last month, Apple and Google made available the first public version of their exposure notification API, which originally debuted as a joint contact-tracing software tool. So far, more than 23 countries across five continents have sought access to the contact tracing technology to develop apps.

That said, the scene was quite different till a few months back as many tech and Internet companies came under the scrutiny of regulators for their privacy policy. However, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the graph completely.

In March, Apple, in collaboration with the White House Center for Disease Control (CDS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, launched an app and a website that allows users to do a self-screening for COVID-19. Apple’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 3.5%. Its shares have gained 7.5% over the past 30 days. Apple carries a Zack Rank #2 (Buy).

Google’s expected earnings growth rate for next year is 33.1%. Its shares have improved 4.6% over the past 30 days. Google has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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In April, Facebook rolled out a range of video conferencing features including a new tool Messenger Rooms, which will allow users to host video calls of up to 50 people. The decision to roll out new videoconferencing features is an attempt to capitalize on the growing demand for video chats due to the coronavirus outbreak. Facebook’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 13.1%. The company’s shares have gained 9% in the last one month 30 days. Facebook holds a Zacks Rank #3.

Amazon has been a savior during the crisis with its strong online presence. The e-commerce giant has hired more than 150,000 workers in phases ranging from warehouse staff to delivery drivers to meet the growing demand for online orders amid the coronavirus outbreak. The company recently announced that it will offer permanent jobs to 70% of the U.S. hires during the coronavirus pandemic.

Amazon is at the same time trying to fill up the gap created by the high unemployment rate in the United States as more people continue to lose jobs amid the pandemic. Amazon’s expected earnings growth rate for next year is 94.9%. Its shares have gained 6.1% in the past 30 days. Amazon holds a Zacks Rank #3.

Netflix has been one of the biggest gainers amid the lockdown, with record installs in the first quarter of 2020. The streaming giant added 15.8 million subscribers from in the first quarter, taking its global total to 182.9 million. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 55.5%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has improved 7% over the past 60 days. Netflix has a Zacks Rank #2.

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Read more from Ritujay Ghosh at Zacks.com

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