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Tech Stocks This Week: Apple's Pullback and Alibaba's Potential

By Daniel Sparks - Dec 30, 2017 at 1:41PM

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Here's what investors should know about two of the world's biggest tech giants.

It was a fairly quiet week in tech as investors prepare for the New Year and the beginning of earnings season in a few weeks. But there are still a few stories in tech worth considering. Namely, Apple (AAPL 1.62%) stock fell about 3.3%, and one analyst bet big on Alibaba (BABA 2.04%).

Here's what investors should know.

iPhone X concerns

In a week of volatility for Apple stock, the tech giant's shares pulled back more the 3% on the heels of a few bearish reports on iPhone X demand. After Christmas, several analysts changed the narrative on Apple's recently launched iPhone X, which has generally been viewed as a strong catalyst for Apple stock.

An Apple customer holding an iPhone X in an Apple store

iPhone X. Image source: Apple.

Taiwanese newspaper Economic Daily said it believed Apple reduced its forecast for iPhone sales in Q1, citing "unidentified supply chain officials," according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, two analysts predicted that iPhone X unit shipments could be lower than they were initially modeling for. Both analysts cited alleged weaker demand due to the iPhone X's high price point.

But there's good reason to believe these concerns may be overblown, including Apple stock's conservative valuation, management's bullish outlook for the holiday quarter, the September launch of Apple's iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Apple's recent broad-based momentum across its segments, and the company's strong bottom-line growth.

Alibaba: On its way to $1 trillion?

Up about 45% in the past 12 months, Apple is edging closer to being the first publicly traded company with a $1 trillion market capitalization. Its market cap currently stands at $860 billion.

But MKM Partners analyst Rob Sanderson is making an interesting bet (via Tech Trader Daily) that Chinese online and mobile e-commerce company Alibaba (BABA 2.04%) could be the next to hit this key market capitalization milestone, after Apple. This is surprising, given that other tech companies, including Facebook, Microsoft, Alphabet, Tencent, and (AMZN 3.15%), all have market capitalization's larger than Alibaba's today.

Sanderson believes that Alibaba's market capitalization could exceed $1 trillion by 2020. That would require Alibaba's current market capitalization of $442 billion to more than double.

Of the tech giants with market capitalization's over $500 billion, Sanderson said MKM is "most confident in the growth drivers behind BABA."

Alibaba has seen incredible growth recently. In its most recently reported quarter, revenue soared 61% year over year, driven by a 63% year-over-year increase in core commerce revenue, a 99% increase in cloud computing revenue, a 33% jump in digital media and entertainment revenue, and a 27% rise in innovation initiatives sales. 

A cloud in a server room

Image source: Getty Images.

Making the case for momentum in e-commerce and cloud computing even stronger, Amazon is also seeing notable growth, despite its greater concentration in more mature markets. In the company's most recent quarter, total revenue was up 34% year over year, driven by 35% growth in its North America segment, 29% growth in its international segment, and 42% growth in its Amazon Web Services cloud computing segment. 

Showing how robust the global market for e-commerce and cloud computing is, the high end of Amazon's guidance for its fourth quarter suggests growth could accelerate even further. Amazon said it expected its fourth-quarter net sales to increase between 28% and 38% year over year compared with the fourth quarter of 2016.

For Alibaba, its breakneck growth should continue. For the full year of Alibaba's fiscal 2018, management expects revenue to rise between 49% and 53% year over year. 

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Stocks Mentioned

Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
$138.93 (1.62%) $2.21, Inc. Stock Quote, Inc.
$109.56 (3.15%) $3.35
Alibaba Group Holding Limited Stock Quote
Alibaba Group Holding Limited
$116.00 (2.04%) $2.32

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