The COVID-19 Stock Market Crash Was 3 Years Ago Today: How Have The Best And Worst Stocks Of 2020 Performed Since?

Zinger Key Points
  • On March 9, 2020, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 2,013 points.
  • At the time, investors had no idea just how severe the COVID-19 pandemic would be.
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Thursday marks the three-year anniversary of the "Black Monday" of the 2020 COVID-19 stock market crash. On March 9, 2020, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 2,013 points, its largest single-day decline in history. The S&P 500 also plummeted 7.6% on the day as investors dumped stocks over concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

At the time, investors had no idea just how severe the pandemic would be, how long it would last, how governments and central banks would respond and what type of economic impact it would have. Ultimately, the COVID-19 stock market sell-off proved to be one of the best buying opportunities of the 21st century, but it took nerves of steel to pull the trigger in real time.

Related Link: If You Invested $1,000 In Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin And Other Cryptos At Their COVID-19 Pandemic Lows, Here's How Much You'd Have Now

Best And Worst Pandemic Performers: By the end of 2020, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY had more than recovered from its March lows, finishing the year up 16.2% thanks in large part to unprecedented quantitative easing and other government stimulus measures. In fact, certain stocks had a huge year in 2020. Tesla Inc TSLA finished 2020 up 743% on the year. Other so-called stay-at-home stocks also saw tremendous growth during the pandemic. Etsy Inc ETSY shares gained 301% in 2020, NVIDIA Corporation NVDA shares gained 122%, PayPal Holdings Inc PYPL shares gained 116% and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. AMD shares gained 11% on the year.

On the other hand, certain industries were completely crushed by the pandemic, including the travel, energy and restaurants.

Related Link: If You Invested $1,000 In Southwest Airlines (LUV) Stock At Its COVID-19 Pandemic Low, Here's How Much You'd Have Now

Cruise stocks Carnival Corp CCL and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd NCLH plummeted during the COVID-19 crash and finished 2020 as the two worst-performing stocks in the S&P 500. Boat stocks dropped more than 56% on the year. United Airlines Holdings Inc UAL and the rest of the airline industry took a huge hit as well, with United shares finishing 2020 down more than 50%.

When oil demand completely dried up, WTI futures prices briefly dropped below zero per barrel for the first time in history. Not surprisingly, Occidental Petroleum Corporation OXY and Marathon Oil Corp MRO were among the worst performers in the market that year, each dropping by more than 50% as well.

Where Are They Now? In the three years since the March 9 crash, macroeconomic conditions have shifted dramatically. The Russian invasion of Ukraine shifted the world from an energy glut to an energy shortage. Massive stimulus programs contributed to inflation reaching 40-year highs in 2022, and the Federal Reserve has shifted from aggressive easing to aggressive tightening. Rising interest rates have triggered a rotation out of growth stocks and risk assets into value stocks and other safe haven investments. Here's a look at the total returns of the 10 pandemic stocks mentioned above since the COVID-19 crash on March 9, 2020:

  • Marathon Oil: +657.6%
  • Occidental Petroleum: +395.4%
  • Tesla: +388%
  • Nvidia: +290.4%
  • Etsy: +107.6%
  • Advanced Micro Devices: +88.4%
  • United Airlines: +13.4%
  • Norwegian Cruise Line: -18%
  • PayPal: -24.9%
  • Carnival: -48.9%

Beniznga's Take: The mix of different performances among these stocks over the last three years is a reminder of just how difficult it can be to pick stocks. For example, oil and gas stocks appeared dead in the water in 2020 and have been top market performers ever since. Yet cruise stocks were in a similarly difficult spot during the pandemic and have continued to underperform in the years that followed.

A deserted Times Square in March 2020. Photo via Shutterstock.

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