June 27, 2019

The technology sector’s most recent pullback was in part due to the increasing scrutiny that is being put on big data technology behemoths (including “FAANG” companies – an acronym for five popular tech stocks: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google). 

As noted in my previous blog, Facebook, Google, Quora and Twitter are all among big tech companies that have dropped the ball in terms of protecting their clients’ personal information – having allowed data breaches collectively affecting hundreds of millions of people. I believe investor sentiment has been souring as a result, and an undercurrent of negativity has been felt on Wall Street.

The majority of this past decade was something I call the “count me in!” period of data proliferation: Many people were so happy to be a part of this amazing modern revolution that they signed up and clicked “I agree” to just about every website and service they saw. This period was one in which:

● The smartphone hit its stride, providing an ever-expanding gateway through which we happily conduct large parts of our lives; and   
● Social media flourished: a deep willingness of internet users to divulge large amounts of who they are to websites and data compilers, including FAANG companies 

But the headwinds of scrutiny/regulation/market saturation/and lack of public trust may prove to slow FAANG’s growth from here on. The “count me in” rave is definitely slowing. We are seeing more articles teaching us how to limit how much of our personal information is collected. On June 3, Apple CEO Tim Cook talked about their new “Sign in with Apple” button that helps users sign up for things, but doesn’t gather any personal data at all.

These developments are clearly touching a nerve. I believe they illustrate that FAANG companies’ days of rapid growth are likely behind it. Yes, these companies are very powerful and aren’t going anywhere in the shorter-term. In fact, I still love a couple of them and Google is among the index constituents in our Horizons Industry 4.0 Index ETF (“FOUR”). However, the tide has turned and owning these names just isn’t enough to gain exposure to the next wave of technological innovation.

Why did many investors have exposure to the Nasdaq Index (through funds like QQQ) from 1996 to 2005? Because of the explosive potential of the internet. From 2006 to 2017, it was companies involved in the smartphone, social media adoption and the blossoming of large-scale data analysis. 

It stands to reason that investors would likely want to have exposure to the next similar phase of growth, which we believe is Industry 4.0 – something you won’t effectively get from Nasdaq-100-tracking ETFs like QQQ. FOUR provides a more focused and global exposure to the areas that we believe matter the most – cloud & big data, advanced robotics, augmented reality & 3D printing, the internet of things (“IoT”) and cyber security.

The views/opinions expressed herein may not necessarily be the views of Horizons ETFs Management (Canada) Inc. All comments, opinions and views expressed are of a general nature and should not be considered as advice to purchase or to sell mentioned securities. Before making any investment decision, please consult your investment advisor or advisors.

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