The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) kicked off the new week with another strong gain. The Dow was up 0.9% at noon EDT Monday as investors continued to be optimistic about the post-lockdown economic recovery. New York City, hard hit by the novel coronavirus, began reopening on Monday after close to three months under a stay-at-home order.
After a strong week, Boeing (NYSE:BA) stock continued to lead the way on Monday thanks to positive analyst commentary. While Boeing was up big, the biggest tech stocks found in the Dow -- Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) -- failed to keep up.
Boeing stock soars again
Shares of airplane manufacturer Boeing shot up about 40% last week, driven in part by optimism about the economy recovering. While demand for air travel remains deeply depressed, a quicker-than-expected recovery could be in the cards. Last Thursday, American Airlines said that rising demand had led it to increase domestic flights scheduled for the summer.
There at a lot of unknowns at this point. How much of this is pent-up demand that may wane in the months ahead? If confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus surge again in the U.S., a possibility after nearly two weeks of protests in many cities, how will demand be affected? If passenger demand stabilizes at a significantly lower level than before the pandemic, will the most financially fragile airlines be able to survive?
None of these concerns mattered on Monday for Boeing stock. Shares were up about 11.8% by early afternoon, driven by some positive analyst commentary. Seaport Global initiated coverage on the stock with a buy rating and a price target of $277, while Goldman Sachs maintained its buy rating and boosted its price target from $209 to $238. Goldman cited "second derivative improvements" in air travel, meaning that not only is demand increasing, but the rate of that demand increase is speeding up.
While the recent rally has been powerful, shares of Boeing remain down around 41% from their 52-week high. The stock still has a long way to go before making pre-pandemic investors whole.
Big tech can't keep pace
While the broader market rallied on Monday, shares of the Dow's big technology companies were largely lower by early afternoon. Apple stock was down about 0.3%; Microsoft stock was down about 0.5%; and Intel stock was down roughly 1.7%.
All three tech stocks are up since the start of the year, and all three have rebounded sharply since bottoming out in March. These rallies have occurred despite significant risks facing these companies.
The iPhone is still by far the most important product for Apple, and the 5G iPhones expected to launch later this year would have had a chance of driving a significant upgrade cycle in normal times. But how the iPhone business will fare in a severe recession is unclear. The iPhone was a fairly new product during the financial crisis, and Apple has grown immensely since then. The company may not be all that recession-proof.
Microsoft faces less risk, as many of its software products are mission-critical and unlikely to be dumped during tough economic times. But layoffs and bankruptcies among its customers could sting, and it's hard to say how durable the recent surge in cloud computing demand really is. Like the iPhone, the cloud computing infrastructure business hasn't yet been tested by a severe recession.
Intel has benefited from surging demand for its server chips, but the company is facing intense competition from rival Advanced Micro Devices on all fronts. AMD's PC chips are competitive, even in laptops where the company has traditionally struggled, and its server chips have forced Intel to cut prices.
Big tech stocks have led the rally over the past few months, perhaps because they were viewed as safe. But that safety will be put to the test as the economy tries to find its footing.