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Amazon, Apple, and Other Tech Stocks Have Soared in the Past Year. Next Week Brings Their First Real Test of 2020.

Earnings from Netflix, Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon and Apple are around the corner. They’ll be eager to prove to investors that they can get back on the growth track. They’d better.

FAANG stocks will start reporting soon and they are ready to show investors that previous earnings blips are nothing more. How patient will investors be this time?

It is all about the banks right now, but starting next week, earnings will begin to trickle in from some of the most popular and best performing media and technology stocks.

They’d better bring their game.

That is the opinion of Russ Mould, investment director at U.K.-based investor platform AJ Bell. In the past year, the aggregate market capitalization of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet—collectively known as FAANG stocks—has climbed 45%, or nearly $1.3 trillion, he notes.

“This combination of soaring share prices and sliding earnings mean that the FAANGs [as] a group have been hugely re-rated from 21 times earnings for 2020 to nearly 30 times now,” Mould said in a note.

Thus, the coming reporting season for this group of stocks will see them trying to show that “the earnings blips of the past 12 to 18 months are just that,” he said.

Earnings aggregates for the FAANG group have come down a collective 8% for 2019 and 7% for 2020, reflecting smartphone saturation and slower upgrade cycles for companies like Apple, and increased investment in content, customers, etc., Mould noted. Investors have been forgiving, but expect these outlays will fire up earnings growth.

“Even if earnings forecasts have dropped slightly in the past year, analysts and investors continue to expect rapid progress going forward,” he said. And that’s a rare thing in the current low-growth, low inflation and low-interest rate environment, making these firms prized cows among investors, he noted.

Of course, buybacks help. Mould noted that the FAANGs collectively returned $83 billion to shareholders in the first nine months of 2019, which should put them on pace to beat the $93 billion earned back in 2018.

For now, he said, even if these well-known names disappoint in the short term, the higher valuations climb, the less forgiving investors will be. And rightly so.

Netflix is trading around 61 times forward 2021 earnings, and Amazon at 71.3 times. And they have lagged behind the pack as far as share performance over the last year. Investors clearly want to keep the faith in these stocks, but show-me time is getting closer.