Investors who bought stocks during the COVID-19 market crash in 2020 have generally experienced some big gains in the past two years. But there is no question some big-name stocks performed better than others since the pandemic bottom.
PG&E's Bumpy Ride: One company that has been a volatile investment in the past two years has been California utility company PG&E Corporation PCG.
Entering 2019, PG&E faced $30 billion in potential liabilities related to its role in multiple wildfires from 2015 to 2018. The company officially filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 29, 2019.
In June 2020, PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter related to people who died in the Camp Fire. Four days later, a judge approved PG&E's plan to reorganize and exit bankruptcy. That bankruptcy exit plan included $13.5 billion in payments to wildfire victims, which resulted in victims owning 22% of the post-bankruptcy company.
The PG&E bankruptcy was one of the largest and most complex bankruptcies in history, and it created a tremendous amount of uncertainty for investors. The share prices of most companies that enter bankruptcy eventually go to $0, but PG&E ended up being a rare exception to the rule.
At the beginning of 2020, PG&E shares were trading at $10.91. By the beginning of March, the stock was up to $15.58 despite news of the virus spreading in China and concerns about a U.S. pandemic. On March 18, 2020, PG&E stock hit its pandemic bottom of $6.25. Fortunately, the stock rebounded in the following weeks as the broader market recovered.
By the time of the manslaughter plea in June 2020, PG&E shares were back up to above $11. By the beginning of 2021, PG&E was up to $12.48.
PG&E In 2022, Beyond: In January 2022, PG&E shares hit $13 for the first time since it exited bankruptcy. After a pullback to as low as $9.64 in June 2022, PG&E shares rallied to a new post-pandemic high of $15.60 in October 2022. The stock has since pulled back to $14.62.
Still, investors who bought PG&E on the day it hit its 2020 pandemic low and held on have generated a disappointing return on their investment. In fact, $1,000 in PG&E stock bought on March 18, 2020, would be worth about $1,986 today.
Looking ahead, analysts are expecting PG&E's stock to continue to rebound in the next 12 months. The average price target among the 11 analysts covering the stock is $18, suggesting 22.8% upside from current levels.
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