Why are you not more bearish?

Client Question: There is a possible world war going on along with a seemingly never-ending pandemic, inflation is at multi-decade highs, the Fed and other central banks are tightening monetary policy, and the world may lose access to Russian oil and gas entirely soon – why aren’t you massively bearish on stocks, which everyone knows is the high-risk asset class?

Answer: While naturally reserving the right to get more cautious on stocks (we downgraded equities to neutral on Feb. 14th), there are a few reasons we are not more bearish on stocks or the broader economic outlook at the moment.

Tech fundamentals still favor Hardware over Software

While the Technology sector has been less dominant in terms of returns this year than it was last year, it remains the largest sector in the US market by value and the focus of much investor attention.

Our view within the Technology sector for some time now has been to favor hardware-related industries over software-related or services areas, and the latest update of both bottom-up and top-down indicators continues to support this view.

Semis vs Software trade now favors Semis

Within the broad Technology sector, there are often significant divergences among the various industries. A key intra-sector industry relationship that many investors use as a touchstone is the relative performance of Semiconductors versus Software.

These two industries capture different parts of the Technology ecosystem. Due to their widespread use in so many devices and products, the Semiconductors and Semiconductor Equipment industry reflects demand for hardware, both within Technology (servers, PCs, phones) and in other sectors (e.g. autos), and thus tends to be much more cyclical. Software tends to be much more stable, with more recurring revenue, and nowadays is closer to a service-type industry. There is much less chance of major “shortages” or “oversupply” of software of the kind that semiconductor makers must often deal with.