What’s worse than losing $10 billion in a year on stocks? Losing it when everyone else just made $20 trillion on the S&P 500 and beyond.
It’s been a astoundingly profitable year for most investors holding stocks in the S&P 500 plus smaller and midsize companies since the pandemic lows on March 23, 2020. But if you held shares in the rare losers since then, like S&P 500 laggards Gilead Sciences (GILD) and Biogen (BGEN), you’re not feeling so good.
All told, a remarkably tiny number of S&P 1500 companies are actually lower now than they were at the pandemic crash’s low. Only 24 stocks in the S&P 1500, including just three in the S&P 500, are down in a year’s time. And adding up all those losses results in a market value decline of $10.5 billion, says an Investor’s Business Daily analysis of data from S&P Global Market Intelligence and MarketSmith.
That’s a bitter pill to swallow. Even after Tuesday’s late-day sell-off, the S&P 1500 is up 83.4% since the March 2020 low. That put $19.7 trillion of wealth into portfolios in that time and $725 billion just this year so far, says Wilshire Associates. The S&P 500 is up 76% from the market’s March 2020 low.
It’s a reminder to focus on the leaders, even in a raging bull market. A rising tide doesn’t lift every single boat.
Biggest Loser On A Percentage Basis
Some of the losses in some S&P 1500 stocks even during the bull market the past year are head-turning.
Small-cap financial eHealth (EHTH) is the top loser on a percentage basis, shedding more than a third of its value in the past year. The company provides private health insurance to families and companies in the U.S. and China. The stock’s drop wiped out nearly a billion dollars in market value. That meant big hits for top holders like index fund runners BlackRock (BLK), which owns 15% of the company, and Vanguard, which owns 8.6%.
Bigger benefits claims continue to hammer the company’s bottom line. Profit per share last year fell to $2.43 a share. That’s down more than 40% from the $4.16 a share it earned in 2019. Revenue, though, rose 15%. Analysts think profit will rise 15% this year, but it’s still in the penalty box with a rock-bottom IBD Composite Rating of just 31.
Left Out From S&P 500’s Gains
What about among the S&P 500?
Gilead Sciences was supposed to be a primary player in the Covid aftermath. The company makes a variety of treatments for human immunodeficiencies. Perfect for a pandemic, right? And yet, shares are down more than 11% since the S&P 500 hit rock bottom going into the pandemic. That wiped out $10.7 billion in market value — the biggest dollar loss of any loser. Mutual fund company Capital Group, which owns 16.5% of the company, took the biggest hit followed by BlackRock, which owns roughly 9%.
Compare that with the gains of the winners. Pfizer (PFE), the S&P 500 health care company first out with a Covid vaccine, is up 24% from the market’s low. That put nearly $40 billion of new wealth into investors’ portfolios. Moderna (MDNA), another vaccine maker, is a huge winner although not in the S&P 500 (yet).
Another big S&P 500 loser in the pandemic rally is Biogen (BIIB).
The company is working on treatments for a number of neurological diseases. But it’s still looking for its big breakthrough, especially in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The company’s stock is down 0.7% since the S&P 500’s low last year. But that’s enough to wipe out value of roughly $6 billion. Now, Biogen’s Composite Rating is just 30. And its profit is seen plunging 45% this year vs. last year. Primecap is the top Biogen holder at 10.4%.
The past 12 months made making money in stocks look easy. But just know, you can still lose money in a bull market.
Lose Money In A Bull Market?
Top percentage losers in the S&P 1500 from March 23, 2020 pandemic low
|Company||Symbol||Ch. From March 23, 2020||YTD Ch.||Sector|
|Strategic Education||(STRA)||-27.0%||-8.1%||Consumer Discretionary|
|Invesco Mortgage Capital||(IVR)||-26.5%||16.0%||Financials|
|GEO Group||(GEO)||-23.9%||-13.5%||Real Estate|
|Fresh Del Monte Produce||(FDP)||-16.4%||16.4%||Consumer Staples|
|United Insurance Holdings||(UIHC)||-11.8%||29.2%||Financials|
|Gilead Sciences*||(GILD)||-11.2%||10.7%||Health Care|
|ANI Pharmaceuticals||(ANIP)||-8.7%||10.2%||Health Care|
|ATN International||(ATNI)||-6.1%||15.9%||Communication Services|
|Easterly Government Properties||(DEA)||-4.6%||-7.3%||Real Estate|
|Tootsie Roll||(TR)||-4.4%||14.7%||Consumer Staples|
|Cogent Communications||(CCOI)||-4.0%||8.8%||Communication Services|
|American States Water||(AWR)||-0.7%||-6.4%||Utilities|
Sources: IBD, S&P Global Market Intelligence, * — in the S&P 500