One year on from the low point of the Covid-19-induced market crash, Market Watch has looked back on some of the biggest winners from the pandemic year.
And the market losers? Well, there really haven’t been many.
Incredibly, given the strict limits that remain on international travel – even travel stocks had delivered great returns in the past 12 months – albeit off the low base.
Air New Zealand is up more than 100 per cent for the year.
Nasdaq-listed cruise ship company Carnival is up 180 per cent.
“Essentially you could have bought anything in March last year and you would have done well,” said Pie Funds chief executive Mike Taylor.
“Not many people would have expected you could have bought travel and tourism stocks and outperformed the market.”
In the initial phase money flowed into the most obvious pandemic beneficiaries – like tech company Zoom, he said.
But as the pandemic rolled on and it got to a point where people could see vaccines coming and the prospect that travel would eventually reopen, investors looked to get ahead of the curve.
“So everyone will be vaccinated and maybe people will get back on cruise ships and people will start flying again in 2022,” Taylor said.
Investors had taken the attitude that “if that’s the case I want to get there first”, he said.
Almost all the equity markets around the world are up sharply from those March 2020 lows.
TheNZX-50 has seen a 45 per cent increase, the ASX-200 50 per cent and the S&P 500 78 per cent.
“By and large markets – particularly those with a tech focus such as the Nasdaq have performed well post-Covid,” Taylor said.
“The reason for that is that many of the companies that have benefited have been those that are part of the digital economy.”
Covid has driven a greater shift to online acceptance, he said.
“Trends that might have been happening quite slowly, or that we expected to take 5 or 10 years, have accelerated quickly.”
Some of the digital stocks have seen phenomenal growth.
US company Wayfair has seen gains of 1360 per cent and Australia’s After Pay in excess of 1000 per cent.
Wayfair is an online retailer of furniture and home office equipment that has benefited from the huge shift to working from home.
Afterpay was the Australian version of buy-now, pay-later, Taylor said.
“Effectively lay-by, another form of credit performing well with the younger generation.”
Video conferencing software firm Zoom saw gains of 800 per cent, although it didn’t fall to such dramatic lows in the crash.
Investors saw early on that it would be a big beneficiary, Taylor said.
Meanwhile, the year had seen 10-year US Treasury bonds rise 119 per cent as yields had fallen.
“Central banks have been at pains to point out that interest rates are not going up any time soon,” Taylor said.
“So I think we’re safe for this year and probably part of next year.
“But I think the longer-term rates will continue to anticipate higher inflation coming through.”
The key takeaway from the trends of the year was that the market is reacting more quickly than it ever has in history, Taylor said.
“It took a while for the GFC to unfold. It started in 2007 and markets hit lows in 2009, but here the whole Covid crash was over 35 days.
“You could argue it is more efficient,” he said. “But it is certainly repricing assets particularly fast and so that means you need to be either ahead of that or extremely nimble as an investor.”
The old adage “its time in the market not timing the market” also continued to ring true, he said.
– Market Watch is produced in association with Pie Funds.
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