S&P 500 Investors Lose $609 Billion On 8 Giant Stocks This Year

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If you lose $609 billion when everyone else is up 14.5% — that’s a bad year. And yet, that’s exactly what happened to those betting on some popular S&P 500 stocks in 2020.


Investors suffered big market value hits from eight S&P 500 stocks this year, including energy giant Exxon Mobil (XOM), financial Wells Fargo (WFC) and technology’s Intel (INTC). All these companies each lost $50 billion or more in market value this year, says an Investor’s Business Daily analysis of data from S&P Global Market Intelligence and MarketSmith.

2020 is another brutal reminder of how costly it is to be in the wrong stocks, even in the right sectors. It’s much more profitable to stick with leading companies in top sectors.

Intel is in the hottest S&P 500 sector: technology. And yet, it lost 21% of its value, or $67 billion, in the same year the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) jumped more than 42%. That really stings, especially if it was one of your top picks for the year. Contrast that with Leaderboard member Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). It’s up 92% this year, putting nearly $60 billion into investors’ pockets.

And being in the wrong sectors — namely energy and financials — was even worse.

“So here’s what happened in 2020, oil and interest rates both declined and an unexpected shock to the system is exactly what we got,” says Bespoke Investment Group.

S&P 500 Losers In The Minority

Most S&P 500 stocks and sectors actually gained in 2020. Roughly a fifth of the stocks in the S&P 500 are up 30% or more this year. And all told, investors hauled in more than $6.8 trillion in wealth this year, says Wilshire Associates.

But it wasn’t impossible to lose money, even if you stuck with S&P 500 stocks.

To be exact, 209, or more than 40% of the S&P 500 are down in 2020. And a fair chunk of the losses are substantial. Among the S&P 500, 135 stocks are down by 10% or more.

Some of the massive losers are widely held, too. Even top investors like Warren Buffett got clipped on some, too.

Biggest S&P 500 Losers: The $100 Billion Club

Looking back at 2020, it’s hard to find a company to suffer more than Exxon Mobil. Plunging oil prices and a policy shift away from fossil fuels was a poor mix for the energy firm.

Shares of Exxon Mobil plunged more than 40% this year. That erased more than $119 billion in market value. That hit is the largest in the S&P 500 in 2020. It’s also a whopping loss if you consider the Energy Select Sector SPDR is down slightly less, 36.9%, this year.

The decline in value is associated with Exxon Mobil’s huge drop off in business. Analysts think the company will lose $2.3 billion in 2020, after making a $14 billion profit in 2019.

And even next year, analysts only think Exxon Mobil will make $5.7 billion. That’s still a fraction of its profit in 2019. Exxon Mobil was dumped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average this year. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you buy Exxon Mobil stock.

Buffett doesn’t own Exxon Mobil, but he still owns 3% of Wells Fargo.

And similarly, Wells Fargo’s value dropped by more than $103 billion this year as its shares plunged 44%. Low interest rates are eating into the bank’s loan revenue. The revenue is seen dropping more than 15% in 2020 to $72 billion. And even next year, Wells Fargo’s revenue is seen falling, again, to $71 billion. Other banks are hurting, too, but nowhere to the level of Wells Fargo. The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) is only down 5.5% this year. Do you know what to look at before buying Wells Fargo stock?

Investors knew 2020 would be rough, but it didn’t end up nearly as bad as feared. That is, unless you owned the big losers.

Biggest Market Value Losers In 2020

Company Ticker Stock % Ch. YTD Market Value Lost YTD ($ Billion) Sector Composite Rating
Exxon Mobil (XOM) -40.2% -$118.8 Energy 2
Wells Fargo (WFC) -44.4% -$103.8 Financials 6
AT&T (T) -26.9% -$82.1 Communication Services 13
Intel (INTC) -21.4% -$67.5 Information Technology 34
Chevron (CVX) -29.5% -$64.4 Energy 6
Boeing (BA) -33.7% -$61.3 Industrials 32
Bank of America (BAC) -14.5% -$56.2 Financials 49
JPMorgan Chase (JPM) -10.1% -$55.1 Financials 64
Sources: IBD, S&P Global Market Intelligence

Follow Matt Krantz on Twitter @mattkrantz

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