Dot-Com Redux: Is This Tech “Bubble” Completely different?

Over 20 years in the past, the NASDAQ Composite Index soared to what was its all-time excessive. On 10 March 2000, it crested on the 5,132 mark.

After which issues got here crashing down.

The dot-com bubble popped. From its spectacular heights, the NASDAQ Composite plunged right into a downward spiral, dropping by roughly 75% within the subsequent two years. It could take a couple of decade and a half all informed for the index to return to and surpass its earlier peak.

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Current volatility however, many buyers have a look at the NASDAQ as we speak and have a way of déjà vu. They’re beginning to describe the index’s efficiency with phrases like these trotted out throughout the tech bubble of the late Nineties. Valuation ranges for these new tech darlings, the analysts inform us, are “frothy,” “extreme,” and from time to time, “bubble-like.”

So what are we to make up off all this? Is the NASDAQ headed for an additional crash, a bust of doubtless dot-com bubble proportions?

For perception on these questions, we in contrast the present tech panorama to that of the dot-com bubble period of 2000. To do that, we took all NASDAQ-listed corporations on 10 March 2000 and 1 September 2020 and divided all tech-focused corporations into 15 sub-industries. From this, we derived the median price-to-book (P/B) and price-to-sales (P/S) ratios for every of the 15 classes and in contrast these values on the two totally different time limits.

Why these two valuation measures reasonably than the extra widespread price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio? As a result of greater than half of the businesses within the yr 2000 pattern had adverse earnings and thus lacked a usable P/E.

So what was the takeaway? What does the comparative evaluation inform us?

March 2000 P/B March 2000 P/S September 2020 P/B September 2020 P/S
Biotechnology 19.66 55.51 3.88 18.10
Communication Gear 10.27 6.67 2.01 1.19
Pc {Hardware} 6.05 2.49 1.43 1.04
Electrical Gear 2.55 2.10 1.22 1.29
Digital Parts 3.68 1.68 2.05 0.69
Digital Gaming 5.17 4.36 4.71 5.68
Info Know-how 3.68 1.56 3.19 0.93
Web Content material 7.25 32.44 4.52 3.15
Web Retail 5.35 8.98 6.57 1.47
Scientific Gear 2.81 2.36 3.07 2.60
Semiconductor 13.85 12.76 3.32 3.95
Semiconductor Gear 10.92 6.56 3.75 4.52
Software program: Utility 10.57 13.39 5.64 3.99
Software program: Infastructure 9.07 8.71 6.44 4.38
Telecom 8.70 11.59 1.55 0.90

Fairly merely, most tech sector classes are nonetheless nowhere close to the valuation ranges of the dot-com period.

The truth is, on a P/B foundation, the median tech sector agency of March 2000 had a valuation stage that was 100% better than that of its September 2020 counterpart. And on a P/S foundation, the median March 2000 tech firm had a 200% better valuation stage.

Solely two tech classes had valuation ranges in September 2020 that approached these of March 2000. These have been the Digital Gaming and Scientific Gear sectors. In Digital Gaming, the September 2020 median firm’s P/S valuation exceeded that of its March 2000 predecessor. And the median Scientific Gear firm’s valuation on a P/S and P/B bases outpaced that from March 2000.

Except for Digital Gaming and Scientific gear, all 13 of the opposite tech classes had greater valuations in March 2000 than they did in September 2020. Notably, the Web Content material class had a median P/S ratio of 32.44 in March 2000 in comparison with 3.15 in September 2020, whereas the median Semiconductor agency had a P/B ratio of 13.85 in March 2000 and three.32 in September 2020.

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Our analysis demonstrates that whereas the present tech business has but to copy the extreme valuations seen within the lead-up to the dot-com crash, their valuations ranges are elevated. Certainly, in most subcategories, they’re greater than they have been in almost all different years other than the lead as much as the tech bubble in 1998 and 1999.

After all, despite the fact that valuation ranges would want to double and even triple to check to in March 2020, pundits will little doubt proceed to take a position and sound the alarm. “Tech is overvalued and approaching dot-com bubble territory,” they’ll warn.

However based mostly on our evaluation, such issues are overblown and such warnings secure to disregard. Regardless of the present period for tech shares, it isn’t a dot-com redux.

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All posts are the opinion of the writer. As such, they shouldn’t be construed as funding recommendation, nor do the opinions expressed essentially mirror the views of CFA Institute or the writer’s employer.

Picture credit score: ©Getty Pictures / egromov

Derek Horstmeyer

Derek Horstmeyer is a professor at George Mason College College of Enterprise, specializing in exchange-traded fund (ETF) and mutual fund efficiency. He at the moment serves as Director of the brand new Monetary Planning and Wealth Administration main at George Mason and based the primary student-managed funding fund at GMU.

Chaitanaya M. Vij

Chaitanaya M. Vij is a pupil with a vigor for finance and a specific curiosity in knowledge evaluation and impression investing. He is at the moment finishing his undergraduate diploma from George Mason College whereas exploring numerous roles in finance, starting from banking to cash administration.

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