If you’re worried about investing in the stock market, your financial advisor may spout the famous market truism made popular by TV host Jim Cramer, that “there’s always a bull market somewhere.” The coronavirus-induced market sell-off of 2020 has made that abundantly clear, as plenty of big-name stocks have actually rallied to big gains, even as others have suffered tremendously.
The key to finding a “coronavirus winner” is to analyze exactly the effect that the 2020 recession has on each individual company’s business. While some beloved industries have sadly seen more than their fair share of bankruptcies, many others have actually thrived, due in part to shifting consumer trends.
Take a look at some of this year’s winners to see where the money has kept on flowing, even in the midst of the current crisis. Note that while some of these businesses have benefited from recent trends, others seem poised to continue to rise even after the distribution of a vaccine and a “return to normalcy.”
Activision Blizzard (ATVI)
- Stock price on March 1: $57.75
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $78.77
In one sense, a company like Activision Blizzard is tailor-made for a pandemic. When citizens around the globe are forced to stay inside for extended periods of time, keeping entertained becomes a major priority. Activision Blizzard is essentially a video game developer, providing content across mobile devices, home computers and gaming consoles. The booming demand for indoor diversions has played a role in the stock’s 35% jump from March to September.
- Stock price on March 1: $1,883.75
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $3,008.73
Nothing seems to slow down internet juggernaut Amazon — not even a global pandemic. In fact, the worldwide shutdown has played into the online retailer’s strengths, as fewer people have been going out to shop in physical locations. When Amazon makes it so easy to receive packages at home in an environment in which it’s hazardous to go outside, sales actually increase.
In Amazon’s most recent quarterly earnings report, released on July 30, net sales jumped 40% on a year-over-year basis, with net income nearly doubling from the prior year. This has helped the stock pop nearly 60% from March to September.
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- Stock price on March 1: $68.03
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $110.34
Apple has been in the news recently, with the announcement of a dividend increase and a 4-1 stock split. While playing a role in the rise of the stock year-to-date, the truth is that Apple was already doing just fine prior to any of these most recent developments.
From March 1 to July 30, when Apple announced its stock split, the stock had already gained over 40%. After the announcement, the stock went on a torrid run, peaking at over $134 per share before some profit-taking set in. Still, Apple shares have risen over 60% from March to September, far outpacing the broader market.
The company looks poised for future growth, with recent announcements of its Apple One $14.95/month subscription service covering “all things Apple,” from Apple TV+ and Apple Music to Apple Arcade, iCloud and other services.
Campbell Soup (CPB)
- Stock price on March 1: $44.47
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $45.59
Campbell Soup may not pop into your head as a flashy, popular stock, but in times of a pandemic, soup is indeed “good food,” to reference the venerable brand’s tag line. The brand has benefited from the combination of its long shelf life, its ease of use and its comforting properties.
The company’s most recent earnings release on Sept. 3 reflected a fourth-quarter net sales increase of 18% and a year-over-year adjusted earnings jump of 50%.
The stock had a good run from March 1 through late August, gaining about 18%. In the last few weeks, some profit-taking has hit the stock, which now trades about even on the year. Holders continue to benefit from the dividend, which pays over 3% annually.
- Stock price on March 1: $82.91
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $166.44
Carvana has been nothing short of a Wall Street darling in 2020. Even after a sharp 27% selloff in early September, the stock has still more than doubled since early March.
Carvana’s business model of buying and selling used cars online actually got a boost from the restrictions required by the pandemic. With customers reluctant or unable to physically visit car lots, shopping or listing cars online became the primary consumer channel.
Even though the company is expanding rapidly, it still turned a second-quarter gross profit of $150 million, with revenue of over $1.1 billion, a jump of 13%. Units sold increased by 25%, totaling over 55,000.
As customers get more comfortable with buying or selling cars online, Carvana seems poised for future growth as well.
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- Stock price on March 1: $773.58
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $1,225.37
Chipotle strugged mightily from 2015 to 2017 as it dealt with the ramifications of a health scare at its restaurants, which included a $25 million fine. Since then, the company has restored consumer confidence and the stock has again been off to the races.
Part of this success derives from customer loyalty to the chain, as overall sales actually decreased in the company’s second quarter. However, in response to the pandemic — and anticipating consumer behavior going forward — Chipotle has been expanding its drive-thru lanes, which it dubs “Chipotlanes.” By 2021, the company plans on 70% of its restaurants having a drive-thru lane. These lanes will help support the portion of Chipotle’s business that is actually booming — digital sales, which skyrocketed 216% in the company’s second quarter.
Citrix Systems (CTXS)
- Stock price on March 1: $102.55
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $133.94
Citrix Systems may not be a household name, but its business model has worked perfectly during the coronavirus pandemic. The main business of Citrix is workspace services, which includes cloud capability, managed desktops and other software and services. Essentially, Citrix creates and supports digital workspaces.
Citrix Systems products are in great demand from a workforce that has been pushed remote, a trend that seems to be lasting. Whether the pandemic lasts for many more months or a solution is right around the corner, the efficiencies developed by companies like Citrix seem likely to remain in demand.
- Stock price on March 1: $157.77
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $206.85
Clorox has two main tailwinds at its back during the coronavirus pandemic: It’s a consumer staple, and it’s a cleaning products company.
Traditionally, during times of market unrest, companies like Clorox perform fairly well because they are considered defensive in nature — essential products that consumers continue to buy even if their discretionary income shrinks.
However, during this pandemic, what’s a better buy than a cleaning products company? The maker of bleach, disinfecting wipes and sanitizers is finding its products in high demand as the daily mantra in the fight against the coronavirus is to clean and disinfect constantly.
- Stock price on March 1: $279.90
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $338.88
Costco is one of America’s most beloved retailers, but many retail stores have suffered tremendously during the coronavirus pandemic. What’s the secret behind Costco’s gains while others have struggled?
At the outset of the pandemic, the secret was in the bulk nature of Costco’s product offerings. When toilet paper and other household essentials were being hoarded in early springtime, sales spiked at Costco, which offers bulk packages of items like bottled water and hand sanitizer.
In the company’s most recent earnings report, overall sales grew 7.8%, while e-commerce jumped a whopping 66.1%. Membership fees also grew, indicating the potential for an increased consumer base going forward.
- Stock price on March 1: $86.31
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $193.39
DocuSign is probably one of the most obvious beneficiaries of the coronavirus pandemic. DocuSign allows customers to electronically sign documents that might traditionally be signed in person, such as loan documents.
In an era in which we’re taught to remain socially distanced and to disinfect anything we touch, it’s much safer to conduct business electronically rather than in person. Plus, signing at home without having to dress up to visit an office or to sit in traffic to make an appointment makes life more convenient.
This may prove to be a tailwind at DocuSign’s back going forward as well. The trends are already reflecting in the company’s earnings, which jumped to $0.17 per share in the company’s Sept. 3 earnings release from $0.01 per share the year prior.
- Stock price on March 1: $337.31
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $395.07
Domino’s is another fairly obvious winner in the coronavirus pandemic. Food delivery transformed from a convenience to a necessity in the early days of the crisis, and that preference for not leaving the house has continued. Domino’s not only protects consumers from having to go into stores and restaurants to get food, it also offers contactless delivery, in which your order is placed outside your door and you are contacted when the delivery person has stepped away.
All of these factors seem to be working, as in the company’s most recent earnings release on July 16, it reported a 36.5% increase in year-over-year sales.
- Stock price on March 1: $34.41
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $48.64
EBay continues the trend of online-based companies thriving during the pandemic while others suffer. The closures of some physical stores has no doubt helped sales at eBay, as has the mandate to remain socially distanced and to wear masks inside stores that do remain open.
The well-known online marketplace reported a revenue increase of 18% on July 28 for the company’s second quarter. Due to a combination of all of these factors, the stock is up over 40% since March 1.
Electronic Arts (EA)
- Stock price on March 1: $101.37
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $125.26
Electronic Arts is another gaming-focused company that has benefited from the increase of indoor activity since the pandemic began. Like Activision Blizzard, the Redwood City-based Electronic Arts develops and delivers games for various internet-connected outlets, from computers and mobile phones to game consoles.
The stock has jumped about 24% since March 1 on the back of this increased demand in the company’s products. In its July 30 earnings release, the company reported an increase in net bookings of 17%.
- Stock price on March 1: $57.81
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $109.23
Etsy has proven to be a valuable resource for many shoppers and businesses alike during the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses who either can’t open their shops or who are dealing with major revenue losses can sell their wares online at Etsy, while consumers reluctant to go out during the pandemic can shop from the safety of their own homes.
In April alone, sales at Etsy spiked 79% as more customers shopped from home and more businesses expanded their storefronts online. For the quarter ending June 30, Etsy reported year-over-year revenue gains of 137%. If both consumers and businesses remain comfortable working in an online format via Etsy, the company could be well-positioned moving forward.
- Stock price on March 1: $105.66
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $124.52
Everbridge is another company that may not be a household name but that has thrived during the pandemic. In fact, the company’s core business seems like it was created specifically for times like these. Everbridge is essentially a crisis management platform. It uses enterprise-wide data to locate threats, help prevent and manage incidents and analyze the results.
Currently, the company helps manage critical events for over 5,000 customers globally, across over 200 different countries and territories. Even after a nearly 25% selloff in early September, the stock price is still up over 50% for the year and about 17% since March 1.
General Mills (GIS)
- Stock price on March 1: $48.20
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $57.58
General Mills is the company behind such consumer staple brands as Pillsbury, Haagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker and Cheerios. Although considered a mature, slow-growth company, General Mills has thrived during the coronavirus pandemic. The company’s stock still remains about 16% above its March 1 price, even after an early-September market drop that snipped about 10% off the share price.
Part of the company’s success this year has been the rise of demand for in-home meals. Net sales in the company’s most recent quarter increased 21% on a year-over-year basis. If the stay-at-home trend persists, the company will likely continue to benefit.
- Stock price on March 1: $161.17
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $202.91
Microsoft is an incredibly diverse company, no longer known simply for dominating the PC software space. Among other properties, Microsoft owns the gaming console Xbox, making it a beneficiary of the stay-at-home trend. The company has also developed Microsoft Teams, which helps workers stay connected and organized via video conferencing and other tools. Like its competitor Zoom, Microsoft Teams is enjoying increased usage during the pandemic as more employees work remotely. As a result, the company’s share price has climbed nearly 25% since March 1.
- Stock price on March 1: $25.93
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $67.89
Moderna has been one of the big winners during the pandemic, with the stock up nearly 170% since March 1 alone. The company has ridden the wave of coronavirus vaccine speculation. In July, Moderna reported that a vaccine it is developing generated a “promising” result in an early-stage trial, so many investors are hoping that the company will find the answer that all of humankind is seeking.
Obviously, if Moderna ultimately develops the first viable coronavirus vaccine, the stock will benefit even more. If others beat the company to the prize, or if the company fails in its mission, some profit-taking may result.
- Stock price on March 1: $369.03
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $470.20
Netflix has been a long-time stock winner on Wall Street, and 2020 has not stopped its popularity. In fact, just like with home video game producers, Netflix has had a banner year in 2020, riding the wave of stay-at-home consumers who either by choice or by law have had few other options for entertainment.
Since March 1, Netflix stock has risen over 27%. The debate over the future success of Netflix primarily focuses on whether or not the company can fight off a seemingly endless list of competitors. So far this year, the answer to that question is “yes,” as Netflix stock has risen over 60% since Disney+ was unveiled on Nov. 12, 2019.
- Stock price on March 1: $269.87
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $498.54
Nvidia is a chipmaker. Specifically, it produces graphics processing units for use in computers. In a year in which video game consoles and computer-based gaming are booming in popularity, Nvidia has benefited as well. The stock is up 84% since March 1.
Going forward, Nvidia is poised to play a big role in the development of self-driving cars. The Nvidia Drive AGX is an open platform “brain” for autonomous cars, while the Nvidia Drive Constellation is a data center solution to assist with photorealistic simulation to help validate self-driving platforms.
- Stock price on March 1: $107.99
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $175.79
PayPal is an online payment processor. As with nearly anything online based, PayPal has done quite well during the coronavirus pandemic. As more transactions move online, PayPal has served as a viable alternative to credit card payments. In mid-July, the company was reported to be the 32nd most valuable company in the world, up from 76th.
PayPal’s earnings report for the quarter ending July 29 reflected these trends, with both revenues and earnings booming. The company reported 30% growth in FX-neutral total payment volume for the quarter, along with an 86% jump in GAAP earnings per share. S&P Global Intelligence analysts suggest that future growth for PayPal lies ahead, as online payment habits may remain the norm.
- Stock price on March 1: $26.69
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $85.20
Peloton is riding the stay-at-home wave with its line of in-home exercise equipment and programs. While many gyms around the country remain closed, Americans have taken to working out at home instead.
As a result of this trend, Peloton stock is absolutely crushing it, rising more than 220% from March 1 through Sept. 17. The company’s year-over-year sales skyrocketed by 172%, and its most recent earnings demolished analyst estimates of $0.10 per share, coming in at $0.27 per share.
The question that remains with Peloton is whether or not customers will still be content with in-home workouts after the pandemic passes.
- Stock price on March 1: $133.60
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $423.43
Tesla has always been a hot-button stock, with passionate voices both supporting and denigrating the stock. The battle has played out in tremendous fashion in 2020, with the stock rising nearly 400% year-to-date and about 218% since March 1.
Even though short sellers — or those who bet against a stock — have been burned to the tune of $25 billion in 2020, Tesla stock still remains the most heavily shorted stock in the U.S. market.
Tesla in and of itself is not necessarily a pandemic play; it’s not as if millions of consumers suddenly decided they wanted an electric car during the coronavirus crisis. But the rise of low-cost trading and the “fear of missing out” have gone a long way toward propelling Tesla’s stock price in 2020.
- Stock price on March 1: $106.30
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $136.69
Walmart’s success in 2020 can be attributed to its size and expertise. As one of the world’s largest retailers, Walmart benefited from the panic-buying at the start of the pandemic, and it has continued to thrive as more consumers stay at home.
On Sept. 1, the company announced it was essentially going toe-to-toe with Amazon — which recently surpassed Walmart as the largest retailer in the world — when it unveiled its Walmart+ subscription program. For $98, or $12.95 per month, subscribers can receive unlimited free shipping from Walmart.com and fuel discounts of 5 cents per gallon at select gas stations.
The stock is up about 27% since March 1.
Zoom Video Communications (ZM)
- Stock price on March 1: $105.00
- Stock price on Sept. 17: $413.12
Zoom stock has gone nearly straight up all year, rising just under 300% from March 1 to Sept. 17 alone. The videoconferencing company was already showing promise as a business application before the pandemic struck, but it has now become a ubiquitous part of everyday life in America.
In addition to its function linking remote workers and home offices, Zoom also serves as a way for families and friends to keep in touch in an era in which travel is still largely deemed unsafe. Zoom has also played a role in facilitating education, with teachers and students linking up on the videoconferencing platform for remote learning. Zoom’s total revenue in its most recent quarter was up an impressive 169% from last year, helping to fuel the rise in the company’s stock price.
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Photos are for representational purposes only and may not reflect the company listed.