Today’s FAANG stocks are likened to the Nifty Fifty of the 1960s and 1970s–a group of well-known stocks that “everyone loved despite wildly high valuations that had little basis in market fundamentals,” according to a recent Barron’s article that questions whether today’s highflyers will meet a similar fate.
Some thought that the irrational investing in the Nifty Fifty all those years ago would “lead to a fall, and it did,” the article reports, noting that “the 1973-74 recession, accompanied by a bear market, would be the longest since 1930, later to be topped by the Great Recession caused by the bursting of the housing-market bubble, also preceded by the dramatic rise of a few corporate giants.”
By 1980, the article reports, the phrase Nifty Fifty became a “byword of ridicule, a reminder of Wall Street’s follies. A bear market and a decade of inflation had crushed the premium price/earnings multiples.” In March 1999, it adds, the market saw “the phenomenal ascent” of stocks like Microsoft, Dell and Wal-Mart before the dot.com bubble burst.
But the news hasn’t been all bad, the article notes, reporting that many of the big-name, Nifty-Fifty companies continue to thrive today. Still, a study conducted in 1999 showed that an investor who paid up for them in late 1972 “would have earned nearly the same returns over the next 25 years as someone holding the S&P 500. Not much of a return for ‘growth issue,’ to be sure, “ the article concludes, “and a cautionary note for those buying and holding the FAANGs.”