It's Raining Tech

All hail broke loose yesterday, in a downpour of chipmakers, Internet stocks, and other tech bellwethers.

Did you catch the deluge?

Naturally it was another wave of implosions in the financial services sector dragging the rest of the market down yesterday, but several tech stocks also fell by more than the Dow's 7% plunge and the Nasdaq's 9% belly flop.

Company

9/29/08 Decline

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  )

(11.6%)

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  )

(17.9%)

Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU  )

(11.3%)

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  )

(10.1%)

Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  )

(10.8%)

Harris & Harris (Nasdaq: TINY  )

(28.1%)

Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE  )

(14.1%)

Let's put yesterday's freefall into sobering perspective. In a single day, these stocks lost what the market averages over the course of a year. You can set your calendar even further back to offset the intraday losses that Apple and nanotech incubator Harris & Harris suffered.

What's an investor to do? Grab a windbreaker and ride it out? Let it all go and run for shelter?

There's a third choice, of course. If you have the means, you can always bring a bucket to catch the falling droplets.

I'm only happy when it rains
There isn't a single person on the planet who can tell you when the market malaise will end. The one sure thing is that stocks are cheaper -- substantially cheaper -- than they were a trading session ago.

2009 P/E

9/26/08

9/29/08

Google

18.1

16.0

Apple

21.3

17.5

Baidu.com

36.6

32.4

Intel

13.2

11.8

Yahoo!

34.4

30.7

Harris & Harris

n/a

n/a

Expedia

9.9

8.5

Source: Capital IQ

See how the year-ahead earnings multiples dropped sharply in a single trading day? This may not seem like much of a consolation prize for those of you who were loaded up on some of these bellwethers before yesterday's fall, but it's deliciously magnetic to someone like me who has yet to make the plunge into these stocks.

I thought Expedia was a compelling value over the weekend, when its 2009 multiple slipped below 10. How pumped am I to find it trading at just 8.5 times next year's projected bottom line? Quite.

Yahoo!'s valuation may still seem high, but keep in mind that a good chunk of the company's market cap is spoken for by Asian investments. Apple did score an analyst downgrade, but is it really enough to send its forward earnings multiple into the teens? No. Not even close.

These are the values that you will kick yourself over in a few years. The stocks may still head lower. However, the deluge will pass eventually, and prices will assume more reasonable valuations.

More reasonable higher valuations.

Big upside to Big G
The media loves to rally around Google's big number milestones. I counted a few headlines yesterday, pointing out how Google closed below the $400 mark for the first time in two years.

Remember when you were thinking of buying Google? Here's your chance. Even better, the stock had a sky-high P/E ratio at the time. Today you can pick it up at just 16 times next year's guesstimates. It's a good place to be. 

Yes, it stings. Yes, it stinks. However, there's no point in getting emotional about the opportunity. When you can buy China's leading search engine -- a company that saw its revenue double this past quarter with earnings soaring by 87% -- for just 32 times next year's net income, why pout? The real show of restraint is masking the giddiness.

Again, I'm not going to call bottom. These stocks will head lower, and perhaps substantially lower. My point is only that the day will come when these stocks trade higher, and perhaps substantially higher.

It will change your perspective. Where were you the day the Dow suffered a record point collapse? If you can answer "singing in the rain" then you're one step ahead of the dreary weather forecast.

Other ways to interpret the weather:

Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Harris & Harris, Google, and Baidu.com are Motley Fool Rule Breakers picks. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has tried to catch a falling steak knife, with the scar to prove it. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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