Information Technology Sector Rating: Marketperform

What is the information technology sector?

It includes makers of software, semiconductors, personal computers; communications equipment such as mobile phones; electronic equipment; and providers of consulting and IT services.

We still like the Information Technology sector’s prospects, but remain concerned about some negative near-term factors, including the impact of the coronavirus epidemic. The phase-one trade deal between the U.S. and China combined with a new trade pact with Mexico and Canada to replace NAFTA have eased uncertainty. However, the sector’s fortunes may fluctuate as hopes for an enduring U.S.-China trade deal are likely to rise and fall.

Additionally, the sector is the most sensitive sector to the overall market based on the relationship over the past three years. That puts it at risk should the markets weaken again. 

While valuations of technology sector are elevated, it boasts strong fundamentals relative to the other sectors. Revenues and earnings are expected to grow over the next two years, but near-term estimates have declined due to virus-related concerns.

Capital expenditures have been below trend for several years, and a return to more normal spending levels would boost the sector. Rising wages, including an increased minimum wage in some U.S. cities and states, could accelerate this trend, as companies may turn to technology to replace increasingly expensive human workers.

Meanwhile, U.S. consumers seem willing to spend more on technology. Consumer confidence generally has remained strong, but we are waiting for new data that might reflect the outbreak of the coronavirus. Balance sheets in the Information Technology sector appear solid, with large cash balances and relatively low debt. And companies have increased dividend payments, which may become a larger part of total equity return in the near term, while also increasing share buybacks, which helps to reduce the supply of available shares and potentially boost prices.

We believe that the sector’s risks currently are balanced with its return potential, and that a marketperform rating on the Information Technology sector is appropriate for the time being.

Sector Overview: Information Technology

Note: Each of the sector lenses shown above—Macroeconomic, Value, Fundamental and Relative Strength—is both intuitive and evidenced-based in nature. Within each, there are a varying number of factors. The Macroeconomic lens includes sector sensitivities to interest rates, stocks and the value of the U.S. dollar; the outlook for each of these is determined by the Schwab Center for Financial Research (SCFR)’s Asset Allocation Working Group, which uses a mosaic approach of quantitative and qualitative considerations. Value includes six different valuation metrics that provide a holistic perspective on current valuations relative to each of the sectors’ own historical valuations, as well as relative to the other sectors. Fundamental provides insight as to how efficiently the companies within each sector use invested capital to produce earnings; this historically has been informative as to future relative performance of the sectors. Finally, Relative Strength measures momentum of the individual sectors against all of the other sectors. We also consider the data in the context of factors outside the scope of these indicators—for example, geopolitical risk or central bank policy changes.  

Source: Charles Schwab, as of 03/05/2020.

What do the ratings mean?

The sectors we analyze are from the widely recognized Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS®) groupings. After a review of risks and opportunities, we give each stock sector one of the following ratings:

  • Outperform: likely to perform better than the broader stock market*
  • Underperform: likely to perform worse than the broader stock market
  • Marketperform: likely to track the broader stock market


Want to learn more about a specific sector?  Click on a link below for more information or visit Schwab Sector Views to see how they compare. Clients can log in to see our top-rated stocks in the Information Technology sector.


* As represented by the S&P 500 index

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Important Disclosures

Schwab Sector Views do not represent a personalized recommendation of a particular investment strategy to you. You should not buy or sell an investment without first considering whether it is appropriate for you and your portfolio. Additionally, you should review and consider any recent market news. Supporting documentation for any claims or statistical information is available upon request.

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market or other conditions. Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

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The policy analysis provided by the Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., does not constitute and should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any political party.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results and the opinions presented cannot be viewed as an indicator of future performance.

Investing involves risk including loss of principal.

The Schwab Center for Financial Research is a division of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.