Another member of the Four Horsemen of the Internet has been knocked off its steed.
EMC (EMC), believe it or not, was considered one of the hottest tech stocks to own during the Internet boom of 2000. Now it’s about to be a unit of Dell. EMC despite all the hype during the tech bubble has been a lagging stock that, Monday, announced it’s being bought by Dell for roughly $70 billion.
The buyout of EMC closes the book on the computer storage company’s 36-year run as an independent firm. But more importantly for investors, it’s the latest example to investors of the dangers of chasing hot stocks when they’re hot. Whether that’s the “Nifty 50” stocks of the 1950s and 1960s, the dot-com stocks of the Internet bubble or the “Four Horsemen of the Internet” stocks, the fallout has been the same. Investors can only wonder if the current “FANG” favorites, Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX) and Google (GOOGL), will meet a similar fate.
EMC was one of those stocks you just had to own in the late 1990s and early 2000 – as it was one of the companies nicknamed the “Four Horsemen of the Internet.” These companies prospered as their customers bought gear looking to build Internet systems and Web sites. EMC, along with network gear maker Cisco Systems (CSCO), storage maker Oracle (ORCL) and computer systems maker Sun Microsystems were seen as dominating the construction and development of the Internet.
But getting blinded by a current trend, once again, prompted investors to make a poor bet. Three of the four Internet horsemen have underperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 since the beginning of 1999. Oracle is the only member of the horsemen has has beaten the S&P 500.
EMC is a classic example of an overhyped stock that didn’t pay off. Shares of EMC have only gained 28% since the frenzy at the start of 1999 – lagging the S&P 500, which has gained 64% during that time. And Cisco Systems, which seemed to be at the nucleus of the networking revolution, has seen its shares rise just 17% since 1999.
Sun Microsystems doesn’t even exist anymore, as it was bought by Oracle as the stock was imploding. Oracle is the only member of the Four Horsemen that’s paid off – and it’s paid of big. Shares of Oracle are up 432% since 1999.
Watching the Four Horsemen of the Internet shrivel serves up yet another reminder to investors to be careful of following the herd.
Follow Matt Krantz on Twitter @mattkrantz
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