DIS­RUP­TORS

Shares - - TALKING POINT -

AIRBNB

Airbnb is dis­rupt­ing the ho­tel in­dus­try as it al­lows peo­ple to rent their homes, rooms, apart­ments – or even cas­tles and tree­houses – to vis­i­tors through its on­line plat­form. We be­lieve its growth po­ten­tial is sig­nif­i­cant.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb has en­joyed stag­ger­ing growth with ap­prox­i­mately 2m peo­ple ev­ery night stay­ing at places listed on the site. The on­line plat­form al­lows ac­com­mo­da­tion providers to boost sup­ply in pop­u­lar ar­eas at a more at­trac­tive price for cash-con­scious trav­ellers.

Airbnb is cur­rently un­listed and is plan­ning to float on an undis­closed stock mar­ket in 2019.

Re­tail in­vestors keen to gain ex­po­sure in ad­vance of this event can get ex­po­sure via in­vest­ment trust Scot­tish Mort­gage (SMT), although Airbnb only ac­counts for 0.3% of the en­tire port­fo­lio. (LMJ)

AL­PHA­BET

Al­pha­bet is the prod­uct of a rather con­fus­ing name change a while back but this is Google as far as in­vestors need be con­cerned. That to ‘google’ some­thing has en­tered the ev­ery­day ver­nac­u­lar as a verb to search the in­ter­net says it all about how the com­pany dom­i­nates the on­line uni­verse, and im­por­tantly, ad­ver­tis­ing spend.

Its ten­ta­cles cover YouTube and the An­droid smart­phone op­er­at­ing sys­tem. It is also look­ing at cap­tur­ing to­mor­row’s tech­nol­ogy growth op­por­tu­ni­ties through its Google Ven­tures blue sky in­vest­ment arm.

De­spite com­ing un­der fire from reg­u­la­tors (it was fined $2.7bn by Euro­pean watch­dogs last year), Al­pha­bet’s rev­enues and prof­its are still grow­ing in dou­ble-dig­its, and the share price con­tin­ues to per­form well. (SF)

AMA­ZON

Hav­ing be­come the se­cond tril­lion dol­lar com­pany this year (af­ter Ap­ple), Ama­zon’s trans­for­ma­tion of on­line re­tail is old hat now, yet in­vestors are eye­ing ex­pan­sion into hi-tech phys­i­cal stores, health­care dis­rup­tion and more.

The most rapid growth is com­ing from Ama­zon Web Ser­vices (also known as AWS), its cloud com­put­ing ser­vices arm.

Ama­zon in­vests mas­sively to carve out mar­ket dom­i­na­tion and ce­ment fu­ture rev­enue and profit grow. This strat­egy has cre­ated vast wealth for share­hold­ers and poses the ques­tion: is this the best growth com­pany in the world?

There are a large num­ber of funds and in­vest­ment trusts hold­ing the stock, mak­ing it easy to get ex­po­sure. The al­ter­na­tive is for in­ter­ested in­vestors to buy the Nas­daq-listed stock di­rectly via their UK in­vest­ment plat­form provider. (SF)

FACE­BOOK

Face­book has en­dured a rocky ride through 2018. The so­cial net­work­ing gi­ant has been mired in mul­ti­ple con­tro­ver­sies, in­clud­ing a data sell­ing scan­dal with Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica that had CEO Mark Zucker­berg tes­tify at two Con­gres­sional hear­ings.

In spite of in­tense po­lit­i­cal crit­i­cism and un­flat­ter­ing me­dia at­ten­tion Face­book’s busi­ness has con­tin­ued to grow at pace, largely driven by on­line ad­ver­tis­ing.

In­vestors are be­ing drawn to the stock by the im­plied po­ten­tial for Face­book to har­ness its vast data net­work, through ma­chine learn­ing and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. It will face on­go­ing over­sight by reg­u­la­tors but there is lit­tle ev­i­dence that Face­book’s growth days are end­ing. (SF)

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