The pandemic spawned a new universe of stock market stars. Some are now returning to Earth.
The launch of Covid-19 changed the way people worked, shopped, and ate, helping companies like video conferencing star Zoom Video Communications Inc.
and home training provider Peloton Interactive Inc.
levitate. But as restrictions eased and vaccines became widely available, certain consumer behaviors tipped back to pre-pandemic norms, posing new threats to businesses thriving in 2020 and 2021.
Just in the last week, streaming giant Netflix Inc.
and online car salesman Carvana Co.
signaled that their businesses were slowing down and joining others trimming their growth targets. Some investors say the fall in home equities signals that the pandemic’s hottest trade may have risen too far and too fast.
Here’s a look at the fate of 10 favorites from the pandemic era:
Netflix investors are changing channels. The streaming service saw its subscriber base, and the stock price reached new heights during the pandemic as viewers chose to binge watch movies and TV series while stuck indoors. But on Tuesday, the company reported its first quarterly subscriber loss in more than a decade. It said it expects to lose $ 2 million more in the current quarter as it struggles with competition from rival streaming services and password sharing among its customers. Netflix shares fell 35% on Wednesday, their second-worst one-day fall ever, erasing $ 54 billion in market value. That day, billionaire investor William Ackman said his fund sold its Netflix stake at a loss.
Peloton Interactive Inc.
The peloton no longer runs high. The fitness equipment maker at home was a breakout success during the pandemic, as closed gyms and closures fueled a massive demand for its exercise bikes. But the company struggled as people ventured back outside, lowering its revenue forecasts and cutting 20% of its employees. Earlier this year, activist investor Blackwells Capital LLC pressured Peloton’s board to fire its CEO and pursue a sale. The company, which once had a market value of more than $ 50 billion, is now worth less than $ 7 billion.
Will Etsy create a post-pandemic recovery? The business boomed for the online marketplace as more consumers shopped from home in the early days of the pandemic. However, some shoppers’ return to physical stores after the widespread availability of vaccines triggered a slowdown in e-commerce. Etsy saw growth in active buyers begin to slow in the first quarter of 2021. Now that the company is preparing to take on competitors like Amazon.com Inc.,
it meets resistance from some of its sellers. More than 20,000 salespeople signed a petition to protest higher commission fees, which Etsy said would help fund investment in marketing and expand vendor support services.
Carvana loses some of its acceleration. The online retailer of used cars on Wednesday reported its first-ever drop in quarterly sales, saying it would raise capital and plans to sell $ 2 billion in common and preferred shares. The one-time pandemic darling has expanded rapidly over the past two years, roughly doubling its quarterly sales volume since the spring of 2020, when more consumers shopped online. But rising interest rates, falling used car prices and inflation-prone customers changed Carvana’s growth plans, while logistics backlogs led the company to cut back on vehicle purchases from consumers and limited available inventories on its website. Carvana shares have fallen about 18% in the last three trading days and almost 80% since their peak last summer.
Clorox is no longer cleaning up. Sales rose with the star of the pandemic as it struggled to keep up with American demand for cleaning products. But the disinfectant frenzy subsided, as did the demand for the company’s napkins and sprays as Covid restrictions eased and vaccines became plentiful. The company said it expects price increases this year to improve margins and profitability. Clorox shares have fallen around 17% since April 2021.
Moderna shot to the top during the global race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. Its shots are the second most used in the United States, after being developed by Pfizer Inc.
and BioNTech SE.
But Moderna is now facing an increasingly crowded market along with concerns from investors about how long vaccine sales will remain robust. The company expects people will need another booster dose before the fall to maintain protection, especially from the Omicron variant. Shares rose in 2021 and set a record in August, but have since fallen 71%. The stock is still well above pre-pandemic levels.
PayPal Holdings Inc.
PayPal loses some of its tax. The migration to online shopping during the pandemic increased its transaction volumes and profits, sending its market value at one point above all U.S. banks other than JPMorgan Chase & Co. The mood began to ebb as lockdowns eased and sales in the stores recovered. In February, PayPal lowered its 2022 earnings outlook and scrapped an ambitious growth strategy it introduced last year. Shares have fallen 72% from their peak in July.
Domino’s Pizza Inc.
Investors no longer have the same appetite for Domino’s Pizza. A stream of delivery and takeaway orders boosted the pizza chain’s shares as restaurants closed their dining rooms during the pandemic. But sales at the same store in the U.S. fell for the first time in a decade in the fourth quarter, damaged by restaurant reopening and ongoing staffing problems. The company has even allowed customers who pick up their orders in stores to demand a $ 3 gratuity due to a lack of delivery drivers. Shares have retreated 33% from their record in December 2021.
Zoom Video Communications Inc.
Zoom does not connect as it did in 2020. Thanks to the pandemic, Zoom became a household name and its stock reached a record high in October 2020. However, higher vaccination rates and return to work have raised questions about its future rate growth in a competitive market for video conferencing. In the most recent quarter, the company’s sales growth fell to 21%, the smallest gain ever. Zoom is also struggling to expand after its nearly $ 15 billion attempt to acquire contact center company Five9 Inc.
was blocked in September by the selling shareholders. The stock is almost back at pre-pandemic levels, down about 82% from their record.
Campbell soup Co.
Campbell Soup shares are cooling down. Its U.S. soup sales rose in early 2020 as consumers sought comfort food. But sales fell in the most recent quarter as more consumers enjoyed the meals out. The 150-year-old company is also facing inflationary pressures and rising costs associated with ingredients, packaging, logistics and labor. It seeks to increase its appeal to younger customers by embarking on a long-delayed refresh of products, including simplified ingredients and modernized packaging. Shares have fallen 13% from their highs in March 2020.
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