The headlines in 2020 have been dominated by the global coronavirus pandemic. Beyond the tragic cost in human lives, the pandemic has also shut down businesses around the world and wreaked economic havoc that has touched nearly everyone’s life.
Yet, in the midst of all of this upheaval, certain businesses and industries have actually thrived in 2020. As workers have transitioned to work-from-home situations, businesses that have connected employees to their offices have thrived. Similarly, as Americans have been restricted as to what goods and services they can go outside to purchase, delivery and transportation companies have benefitted as they fill the void.
In addition to the industries that have been able to take advantage of the pandemic economically, others have simply come into their own in 2020. These companies may actually be the ones that thrive going forward after the distribution of a vaccine, as they are not reliant on the societal changes forced by the pandemic to succeed.
It certainly makes logical sense that during a global pandemic, when many restaurants are closed and consumers are asked to stay at home, that food delivery services would benefit. Emblematic of the industry as a whole, DoorDash, the leader in the space with 49% of sales, has seen business nearly quadruple during the pandemic. The company has also recently announced plans for an IPO, which is anticipated to be a popular offering.
The healthcare industry around the world has been focused on the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine since the pandemic began. Needless to say, this environment has been a speculator’s dream as companies reported to have vaccines in development see their stock prices skyrocket. Companies like Altimmune jumped from about $1 per share in January to over $30 in July, although it has since settled back down to about $10.
How are you to stay in touch with friends, family and your work when you’re forced to stay at home? If it’s 2020, it’s via videoconference. Companies like Zoom have been huge beneficiaries of the work-from-home/stay-at-home movement in 2020, and as a result, Zoom’s stock price has skyrocketed nearly 500%. Although Zoom was already planning for a future in which videoconferencing was more prevalent, this has been expedited by the coronavirus pandemic.
Home Craft Stores
In a world where so many people are staying home, it makes sense that e-commerce is thriving. As a corollary of this, companies that act as conduits for sales from those stuck at home are also booming. Etsy, the online marketplace dominated by small sellers offering handmade or vintage items, is one of the best performers in the stock market year to date, up over 150%.
Food delivery has always had its place in American society, but grocery delivery always had trouble finding its footing. This has changed during the coronavirus pandemic, as Instacart has become a new Wall Street darling. The valuation of Instacart has more than doubled in 2020, to a whopping $17.7 billion, as investors eagerly await its IPO.
Online Auto Sales
Over the past decade, car dealerships have slowly begun implementing internet sales into their business plans, but it wasn’t until 2020 that this option really took off. Thanks to online-only sellers like Carvana, the stay-at-home crowd in 2020 still had a place to buy and sell their cars, all from the comfort of their homes. Year-to-date, Carvana stock is up almost 140%, even though it’s down from its all-time high set earlier in the year.
Payment Services Providers
Americans have become more and more comfortable with online payment services providers like PayPal in recent years. However, 2020 unveiled the full potential of these types of companies. During the coronavirus pandemic, contactless payments became both popular and necessary. PayPal stock is one of the beneficiaries, up over 74% year to date.
Transportation and Freight Services
Transportation and freight delivery companies like FedEx struggled early on in the year, as the world economy crashed into a recession and businesses around the globe shut down. However, the rise in online shopping and the reopening of businesses has shown how critical this industry is to the global economy. FedEx has mastered the art of efficient delivery and logistics and its earnings and share price have proven the results, with the stock up nearly 90% year to date.
Diagnostic healthcare was something of a futuristic concept until 2020 hit. With the coronavirus spreading to every corner of the globe, doctors and consumers alike immediately gravitated to the promise of diagnostic healthcare. Since diagnostics can be conducted remotely, they reduce the need for in-person contact, making them valuable during a global pandemic. The convenience they offer will likely continue to make them popular even after the pandemic. Quidel Corporation, a diagnostic services provider, has seen its stock rise over 160% year to date, although it is quite volatile.
Cloud-based technology is the direction that the world has been moving in for some time. However, much like videoconferencing and home delivery, 2020 has been the year for the cloud. Remote workforces still need to get the job done, and working through the cloud has been an invaluable way for companies to keep employees safe while still doing business. Salesforce.com, the darling of the cloud services companies, has been emblematic of the industry, up over 50% year to date.
Healthcare has traditionally been considered an in-person endeavor, with patients and doctors interacting face-to-face. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, telehealth started booming in late March 2020, right when the coronavirus was headed toward its first peak. In addition to allowing the traditional doctor-patient relationship to continue, telehealth also proved valuable for public health at large. Teladoc Health, the leader in the industry, made the move to merge with rival Livongo during a year in which both companies dramatically increased their earnings and share prices, with Teladoc up over 114% by mid-November 2020.
Tesla is technically in the electric vehicle industry, but it really is a force all its own. After years of promise and speculation, Tesla’s stock really hit the jackpot in 2020, jumping an astronomical 388% year to date through mid-November 2020. That YTD gain is even after the stock swooned over 100 points from its all-time high of $502.49 in August 2020 to its current price of $408.50 on Nov. 13. A continuous string of profitable quarters, hope for the future and speculation the company will be included in the S&P 500 index have all contributed to the big gains in 2020.
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