The most highly anticipated annual report on the future of the Internet strongly suggests investors should be looking to buy technology stocks.
Released Wednesday, Mary Meeker's gigantic "State of the Internet" slide presentation is being carefully parsed by technology investors across the globe. Ms. Meeker, now a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, developed an enviable reputation as a technology guru during her 25-year tenure as an analyst at Morgan Stanley, helping them dominate underwriting activity for the era.
This year's 164-slide presentation covered a huge amount of ground – notably the growth prospects for mobile computing, education and health care software as well as the future of television. But for investors, the most promising chart focused on an overview of technology stock market capitalization.
Surprisingly, in a world where mobile technology, 3-D printing, gaming, driverless cars, automation, industrial and accounting software – just to name a few trends – make the proliferation of technology a near certainty, the market capitalization of technology stocks is well below its historic trend relative to the S&P 500.
At the very least, we should expect the S&P Information Technology Index's market cap to match the historic trend growth. It's also not a stretch to believe that, as technology moves into more areas of the economy, the trend line will rise.
Technology stocks' market cap is currently 17.4 per cent below the trend line after a stomach-churning index price decline of 5.8 per cent in the last two weeks of January. This implies the sector is undervalued based on its economic importance. And, as history's best investors have frequently noted – Warren Buffett and Sir John Templeton for example – the most profitable time to invest is often after periods of where volatility and investor fear are at elevated levels.
The rise and fall of investment trends within the broader technology industry make choosing individual stocks a sketchy proposition, as investors in social media stocks like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. learned earlier in 2014. Exchange traded funds are the obvious, volatility-managing way to go, and the U.S. market has a number of options.
Broad-based participation is available through the U.S.-traded Technology Sector SPDR (XLK-NYSE), Vanguard Information Technology Index Fund (VGT-NYSE) and the Guggenheim S&P Equal Weight Technology ETF (RYT-NYSE). More adventurous, risk tolerant investors can emphasize technology sub sectors with ETFs like the First Trust ISE Cloud Computing Index Fund or the Robo-Stox Global Robotics & Automation Index ETF.
Follow Scott Barlow on Twitter @SBarlow_ROB.