As the year 2018 begins to come to a close, there has been a flurry of major news stories from some of the largest tech firms in the United States. Within the past few weeks, Amazon, Apple, and Alphabet (Google) have all announced their intentions to expand their operations away from their Pacific origins and begin exploring their options eastward.
Amazon—whose original headquarters is in Seattle, WA—attracted the largest amount of media attention by creating a “HQ2” pseudo-competition that ultimately resulted in bids from more than 200 North American cities. On November 13th, CEO Jeff Bezos’ increasingly diversified company announced that the expansion would take place in both Northern Virginia and New York City.
“As the most dynamic and diverse city in the world, New York City will help propel Amazon’s future growth and kickstart an exciting new chapter in the company’s history,” stated Bezos, whose company has also claimed it will plan to invest over $5 billion in the expansion project. Amazon strives to create over 50,000 new jobs with this project (25,000 in each location), which will inevitably have a major economic impact and increase the company’s already impressive reach.
Since Amazon unveiled its desired HQ2 locations, Apple and Google have made much quieter expansion announcements of their own. On December 13th—exactly one month after Amazon’s announcement—Apple announced its intention to build a new campus in the rapidly growing city of Austin, Texas.
The Austin expansion will be a $1 billion investment and will eventually accommodate more than 15,000 new employees (in addition to the 6,000 already existing there). CEO Tim Cook stated, “With this new expansion, we’re redoubling our commitment to cultivating the high-tech sector and workforce nationwide.” The company also plans to initiate smaller expansions back on the west coast in Seattle, San Diego, and Culver City (CA).
On December 17th, Google announced that it would join its tech counterparts in expanding via a blog post stating its intentions to “conservatively” commit at least $1 billion and 7,000 new jobs in Manhattan’s thriving West Village. Google has already begun to entrench itself in New York (America’s largest city), but this newest addition will mark one of its most ambitious projects to date.
Impact on Stock Prices
The parallels between these three major expansion projects are obvious. Each of these projects shows a clear effort to begin expanding away from the West Coast and begin diversifying the distribution of capital (both physical and personal). Furthermore, the fact that these expansion announcements are all occurring so closely together may suggest that there is some underlying trend at play.
However, though some investors using fundamental analysis may have expected this news to be reflected in stock prices, all three companies have so far delivered lukewarm results. While Amazon did experience a brief uptick around the end of November, the company’s stock has been generally declining and has already lost the small amount of progress that it had made (trading at $1,545.23 on December 18th).
Apple, similarly, is trading for a lower price than it was on the day of its big announcement. The company has already dropped from nearly $172 to under $166 per share ($165.71 as of December 18th). Google has experienced a minor bump in price (about 2.5%) over the past 24 hours, but it is likely too soon to know if any momentum trading level trends are formulating or not.
What appears to be the case is that, though these expansion plans may be good for each company in the long-run, the news has not been enough to overcome general economic woes. The S&P 500, the DJIA, and most other major indexes (many of which include all three companies mentioned above) have ended the fiscal year 2018 with statistically disappointing quarters. Even most bond indexes have also begun to suffer.
According to veteran bank analyst Dick Bove, “There’s a 60% chance of recession by the end of next year.” This opinion was also strongly supported by global strategist Sri Kumar, according to CNBC.
Concerns with the actions of the Federal Reserve, international political turmoil, and increased market volatility are all fundamental indicators that a recession may be brewing. While the futures of Amazon, Apple, and Google remain yet to be seen, general market trends have demonstrated that investors are hesitant to share these tech giants’ bold ambitions.