Positive vaccine news punishes pandemic-boosted companies like Zoom, Peloton, Etsy

Alex Wilhelm
·2-min read

Stock markets worldwide are soaring on news that a vaccine candidate is 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, and could start coming to market in a matter of months. This is upending the stock market, sending futures shares shooting higher in pre-market trading. But while the euphoria is helping sectors that have taken punishment during COVID-19, not all companies are catching the same updraft.

Indeed, shares of airlines and cruise companies are coming up like Lazarus, and the value of some formerly favored concerns like Zoom and Peloton are down sharply this morning. (More from today: "Zoom settles with FTC after making ‘deceptive’ security claims.")

The value of Peloton, which saw its value skyrocket as stuck-at-home exercisers favored its equipment, is off nearly 13%. And the value of Zoom, a popular video chatting service used by companies, is also down 13%. Online retailers are also taking a hit, including Etsy and Wayfair, which are seeing double-digit drops. Even Amazon is down in pre-market trading, off 2.3% its latest close.

The morning is an odd inversion of prior trends. The summer saw tech shares enjoy investor favor, but it now appears that money is leaving tech shares for other, perhaps less-pricey stocks.

While it is too soon to know, it could be that software stocks (the SaaS, cloud bucket TechCrunch pays close attention to) are about to see their multiples clipped as investors move their cash to a now-widened set of growth investments. If that happens, the technology industry would have to adapt to less-exuberant valuations for its public companies.

Any such move would impact startups, especially those in the later-stages that see their valuations track the public markets somewhat; late-stage startup investment has been active this year as investors could see liquidity options via IPOs and other mechanisms at high prices. If those prices drop, capital could tighten for tech startups.

Of course, it's early. Things can, and may, change. Investors could be trading too aggressively on what really is news that will take months to impact real economic activity. Today, however, feels like a new chapter in the 2020 markets story.