The Pandemic’s Best And Worst Performers

It has now been eight months since the first COVID-19 case was reported in the U.S., and six months since the steep sell-off in March. Today I want to reflect on how various sectors have performed since that time.

Every weekday, investment data provider FactSet sends me an email summary highlighting the top news of companies I follow. On Fridays, that summary includes the performance of all sectors before and during the pandemic, as well as the best and worst performers in each sector. This week, the six month anniversary of the market bottom in March, I want to share that information.

For reference, the S&P 500 performance from January 20 (the date of the first reported COVID-19 case in the U.S.) until now is +0.3%.

Below is the sector performance for 12 S&P 500 sectors categorized by FactSet. Note that this is one more sector than we normally report, because Banking and Insurance have been split out as separate sectors instead of lumping both into Financials.

For each sector, the performance from January 20 to now is shown versus its 12-month return prior to January 20. For example, Consumer Discretionary is shown as “Consumer Discretionary (6.5%) vs 17.7%.” That means since January 20 the sector has declined by 6.5%, but it had returned 17.7% in the 12 months prior to that.

With that, here are the numbers.

    • Consumer Discretionary (6.5%) vs 17.7%
      • Top Performers
        • Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) 59.1%
        • Tractor Supply Company (NSDQ: TSCO) 49.6%
        • L Brands (NYSE: LB) 49.3%
      • Worst performers
        • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: NCLH) (72.3%)
        • Carnival Corporation (NYSE: CCL) (70.2%)
        • Royal Caribbean Group (NYSE: RCL) (51.0%)
    • Consumer Staples (3.0%) vs 20.9%
      • Top Performers
        • Clorox Company (NYSE: CLX) 30.6%
        • Church & Dwight Co., Inc. (NYSE: CHD) 26.5%
        • Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) 18.9%
      • Worst performers
        • Coty Inc. Class A (NYSE: COTY) (71.5%)
        • Molson Coors Beverage Company Class B (NYSE: TAP) (39.1%)
        • Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (NSDQ: WBA) (32.1%)
    • Healthcare 4.7% vs 20.4%
      • Top Performers
        • West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. (NYSE: WST) 77.8%
        • DexCom, Inc. (NSDQ: DXCM) 69.8%
        • ABIOMED, Inc. (NSDQ: ABMD) 48.6%
      • Worst performers
        • Mylan N.V. (NSDQ: MYL) (27.0%)
        • CVS Health Corporation (NYSE: CVS) (22.8%)
        • Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) (20.8%)
    • Energy (46.2%) vs (7.4%)
      • Top Performers
        • Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (NYSE: COG) 15.7%
        • Williams Companies, Inc. (NYSE: WMB) (13.7%)
        • Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) (32.2%)
      • Worst performers
        • Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: OXY) (74.2%)
        • ONEOK, Inc. (NYSE: OKE) (64.7%)
        • Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE: MRO) (63.6%)
    • Industrials (1.4%) vs 25.1%
      • Top Performers
        • FedEx Corporation (NYSE: FDX) 53.7%
        • Rollins, Inc. (NYSE: ROL) 50.3%
        • United Parcel Service, Inc. Class B (NYSE: UPS) 36.5%
      • Worst performers
        • United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (NSDQ: UAL) (58.2%)
        • American Airlines Group, Inc. (NSDQ: AAL) (52.9%)
        • Boeing Company (NYSE: BA) (48.3%)
    • Power and Utilities (15.5%) vs 23.8%
      • Top Performers
        • NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE) 9.8%
        • American Water Works Company, Inc. (NYSE: AWK) 7.2%
        • Xcel Energy Inc. (NSDQ: XEL) 3.0%
      • Worst performers
        • FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) (40.2%)
        • Edison International (NYSE: EIX) (31.9%)
        • CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (NYSE: CNP) (29.3%)
    • Basic Materials 4.1% vs 16.6%
      • Top Performers
        • Newmont Corporation (NYSE: NEM) 50.2%
        • Freeport-McMoRan, Inc. (NYSE: FCX) 33.8%
        • Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE: APD) 26.3%
      • Worst performers
        • CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CF) (23.8%)
        • Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. (NYSE: MLM) (14.1%)
        • LyondellBasell Industries NV (NYSE: LYB) (13.7%)
    • Information Technology 0.9% vs 40.1%
      • Top Performers
        • NVIDIA Corporation (NSDQ: NVDA) 97.1%
        • PayPal Holdings Inc (NSDQ: PYPL) 51.0%
        • Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NSDQ: AMD) 48.1%
      • Worst performers
        • DXC Technology Co. (NYSE: DXC) (48.7%)
        • Xerox Holdings Corporation (NYSE: XRX) (48.3%)
        • Western Digital Corporation (NSDQ: WDC) (45.2%)
    • REITs (17.5%) vs 17.9%
      • Top Performers
        • Equinix, Inc. (NSDQ: EQIX) 27.5%
        • SBA Communications Corp. Class A (NSDQ: SBAC) 22.9%
        • Digital Realty Trust, Inc. (NYSE: DLR) 17.0%
      • Worst performers
        • Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE: SPG) (51.9%)
        • Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE: VNO) (45.6%)
        • SL Green Realty Corp. (NYSE: SLG) (44.5%)
    • Insurance (19.4%) vs 21.8%
      • Top Performers
        • Progressive Corporation (NYSE: PGR) 26.5%
        • Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE: AJG) 9.4%
        • Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. (NYSE: MMC) 4.0%
      • Worst performers
        • American International Group, Inc. (NYSE: AIG) (45.5%)
        • Lincoln National Corporation (NYSE: LNC) (44.2%)
        • Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: HIG) (37.8%)
    • Banks (30.8%) vs 11.2%
      • Top Performers
        • SVB Financial Group (NSDQ: SIVB) (4.3%)
        • First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC) (8.2%)
        • Fifth Third Bancorp (NSDQ: FITB) (26.0%)
      • Worst performers
        • Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) (48.6%)
        • Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) (44.4%)
        • Comerica Incorporated (NYSE: CMA) (40.3%)
    • Media and Telecom (4.0%) vs 22.7%
      • Top Performers
        • Netflix, Inc. (NSDQ: NFLX) 37.8%
        • Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NYSE: ATVI) 29.5%
        • Charter Communications, Inc. Class A (NSDQ: CHTR) 23.4%
      • Worst performers
        • Omnicom Group Inc (NYSE: OMC) (35.2%)
        • Fox Corporation Class A (NSDQ: FOXA) (28.2%)
        • Discovery, Inc. Class A (NSDQ: DISCA) (25.5%)

A few things stand out from this list. First, most sectors are down during the pandemic, despite the huge rally since March. Health care, basic materials, and information technology are the only sectors that were positive in the 12 months prior to the pandemic, and in the period since.

On the other hand, Energy was the only sector that was down during both periods. Notably, two of the three best-performing energy stocks during the pandemic are still down by double-digits.

Energy stocks were hard hit leading up to the pandemic due to a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Then, energy prices further collapse as global travel plummeted in response to the pandemic.

Real estates investment trusts (REITs) weren’t far behind as tenants found themselves unable to pay rent. But the banking sector was hit even harder than the REITs as the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to zero in an attempt to boost the economy.

Nevertheless, all of these sectors have enjoyed a significant rebound since March. Although the energy sector is still significantly down, it has led all sectors higher during the recovery as investors anticipate a return to normal.

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