Interest in online shopping and new technological gadgets has continued to decline significantly in the wake of the removal of travel restrictions, alcohol bans and virtual meetings. This is currently a short-term headwind for technology, media and telecommunications stocks, but this should stabilize once the stock market turbulence subsides. At the same time, interest rates continue to rise and investors are currently focusing on profitable growth rather than just revenue growth. Much of the decline in the tech indexes is being driven by the companies that are not making money today. More than 40 percent of the companies in the tech-heavy Nasdaq index are down more than 50 percent from their peak in the last 12 months.
After Grand Theft Auto and NBA2K: The pipeline of high-profile games is packed
We currently see unique investment opportunities in video game companies. This sector has very attractive demographics, as the average age of the gamer is still very young at 33, compared to an average age of just under 50 for consumers of traditional media such as television. The sector should therefore be in for a long period of growth. Nevertheless, the industry has been hit hard and, in our view, companies are valued as if growth is a thing of the past. This currently creates good investment opportunities. While video games make up 1.5 percent of the fund's benchmark index, we now have over 10 percent of the fund invested in the largest companies in North America, Japan and Europe. We are interested in American Take Two Interactive, among others, and have invested in shares here this year. Take Two Interactive owns successful titles such as Grand Theft Auto, NBA2K and Red Dead Redemption. The company is led by perhaps the best CEO in the industry and has a large pipeline of AAA games, meaning high-profile games with big budgets. And with the recent acquisition of Zynga, the company is moving full steam ahead into the mobile games segment. Despite a very attractive setup going into 2023, the stock is trading 20% below its historical average.
Another area with potential, which we consider to be stable and where demand remains strong, is business software. The pandemic has reinforced the great need for digitization in companies, resulting in solid growth for players such as Microsoft, SAP and Salesforce.
Skeptical about semiconductors
Although we recently invested over NOK 150 million in Norway's Nordic Semiconductor, we are skeptical about the semiconductor industry overall. On the positive side, consolidation has resulted in high margins and less cyclical activity than before, and this suggests that the industry is trading above its historical average. At the same time, overconsumption of goods, particularly in electronics, during the pandemic has led to a supercycle of investment in production capacity that is unparalleled. National concerns, as well as the desire to move semiconductor production from the East to the U.S. and Europe, have fueled demand.
Taiwan Semiconductor, the world's largest player in semiconductor manufacturing, reported annual investment spending of about $10 billion before the pandemic. By 2021, that figure had risen to $30 billion, and this year it is expected to be $42 billion. This capacity is becoming available at the same time that the semiconductor cycle has already turned. We believe this superboom will be followed by a "superbust," and although the heavy semiconductor index SOX is 30 percent below its peak, we see a high probability of further declines.
In our view, technology will continue to outperform the broader market over the long term, driven both by innovation and by technology spreading into traditional industries. As early as next year, we will be able to observe more clearly how these trends play out in a covid-normalized world. This could lead to a renewed strong interest of investors for this sector.
* Since its launch in 2001, the DNB Fund Technology has generated an annual return of 17 percent. The fund has significantly outperformed its peers in 2022, when the technology sector was hit hard after a long stock market party caused by the pandemic. While the benchmark MSCI World Technology index has fallen more than 25 percent, the DNB fund has lost just 5 percent since the beginning of the year.