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US tech companies face new French tax – four experts weigh in

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U.S. tech companies are facing more scrutiny from Europe.

France’s Senate on Thursday approved a tax on revenues from major tech companies, including Google, Amazon and Facebook, raising the ire of the White House.

Here’s what the impact could be.

Larry McDonald of Bear Traps Report says the political pressure will hurt tech stocks ahead of the next election:

“You’re talking about companies that are trading at 6 to 10 times sales, earnings multiples are up near 20, and you’ve got a perfect storm coming. You’ve got a number of debates on the Democratic party side, they know that Trump stole a large section of democrats and independents in the last election so they’re moving to the populist realm and then you’ve got a White House that sees this… you’re talking about a White House and Elizabeth Warren and Bernie [Sanders] that are really going to come down hard and pressure the DoJ to act.”

Mark Mahaney, lead internet analyst at RBC Capital, says the threat of increased regulation is coming.

“I look at these large platforms – Google, Facebook, Twitter perhaps – their biggest threats are competition, maturity and regulation but regulation has clearly rared up over the last three or four years to something I don’t think we’ve ever seen before. I think the break-up risk of these assets is extremely low but that there’ll be increased regulations, fines, some restrictions on targeting.”

John Freeman of CFRA Research says the opportunities outweigh the risk.

“Outside of the regulatory risk, these businesses are doing very, very well and I don’t think that valuation is really a concern for those companies at least relative to their growth prospects… I would take issue with their call on software stocks particularly software-as-a-service stocks or cloud stocks. There may be a couple that are overvalued and I think they stand out but I think what’s underappreciated here is the tremendous amount of operating leverage that these businesses have inherently.”

Stephanie Link of Nuveen sees value in one corner of the tech market.

“I understand why you want to own some software, software as a service, but they do trade at 30 to 50 times forward earnings. They do have operating leverage and they do have recurring revenue. That’s why they trade where they do. Expectations are high and it’s a very crowded space. The better value would be in the semiconductor space and even the FANG because they have been dragged down on regulation.”

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