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Down 30%, Is It Safe to Invest in the Nasdaq Right Now?

The Nasdaq Composite Index -- along with the Nasdaq-100 Index, which the popular Invesco QQQ (NASDAQ: QQQ) ETF tracks -- is among the most closely watched, technology-focused U.S. stock indexes. Its influence on equity prices is so great that one might discern a chicken-and-egg dynamic in which the Nasdaq's component stocks influence the index's price movements.

However, a sharp downtrend in the index could also prompt traders to dump their individual tech stocks. Wall Street witnessed this dynamic in action when the Nasdaq lost roughly 30% of its value during 2022's first half. As investors flipped the emotional switch from risk-on to risk-off, gut checks and tough choices had to be made: Is it best to stay the course, lean into the negative sentiment, or abandon ship?

Now, in the wake of a dismal six-month performance, some due diligence just might uncover an opportunity for intrepid tech-market traders.

Value in vogue

In case you didn't get the memo, inflation is rather high in mid-2022. Three consecutive months of 8%-plus increases in the U.S. Consumer Price Index are bound to impact the economy and markets -- and in response, the Federal Reserve began hiking interest rates for the first time in a long time.

As a result, just about anything perceived as a growth stock (whether justifiably or not) has come under pressure. A less accommodative Fed means that cautious investors are prioritizing value over growth now, and technology stocks were known for flying high when the Fed kept interest rates low.

With traders rotating out of tech stocks -- and with the Fed likely to raise interest rates at every Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting this year -- it might be tempting to dump all of one's technology stocks and just avoid the Nasdaq altogether.

Yet, there's no need to panic sell. The bear market in tech stocks has brought some high-flown valuations back down to Earth and opened up a window of opportunity to get into some steady, sturdy names.

Weighted with heavyweights

If you're going to buy or hold a Nasdaq-tracking fund such as the Invesco QQQ ETF, it's important to apply the principle of "know what you own." The Nasdaq 100 (which actually includes 102 stocks) comprises a mix of tech and non-tech names, including Pepsi and Dollar Tree, interestingly enough. Those non-tech stocks are minor players, though, as the Nasdaq is market-cap weighted, and a handful of tech-tonic names dominate the index.

Some critics might accuse the Nasdaq of having a weight problem as the top three stocks -- Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) with 12.58% weighting, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) with 10.92%, and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) with 6.15% -- comprise nearly 30% of the index's weighting. Another major influencer in the index is Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL), which is listed twice, with the company's Class A and Class C shares each getting nearly 4% index weightings.

It's a lopsided index, to be sure, but at least it's dominated by recognized brands. After all, Apple and Microsoft have been around since the 1970s, and Amazon and Alphabet are unrivaled in the e-commerce and search-engine markets. Maybe the apparent lack of breadth isn't such a bad thing, then.

Besides, now that the air has been let out of their stocks, perhaps these companies could actually fall into the value category. Using the good old trailing 12-month price-to-earnings ratio as a rough-and-ready metric, we find some decent value here with Apple at 22.6, Microsoft at 27.1, and Alphabet at 20.3 (Amazon clocked in at 51.2, but at least it's not in the triple digits like it used to be).

So now, the rest is up to you. See what's in the Nasdaq and decide for yourself whether these are brands you can stand behind as an investor. A deeper dive into the famous names dominating the index should uncover some surprising values and a potential recovery play for the year's second half.

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. David Moadel has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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