S&P 500: 19 Stocks Drove Half The Market’s $7.6 Trillion Pandemic Gain

Talk about finding a bright side in a tough situation. Exactly one year since the pandemic market decline started, investors in stocks including the S&P 500 scored $7.6 trillion in wealth — largely due to just a handful of stocks.


And just 19 stocks in the S&P 500, including technology giant Apple (AAPL) and PayPal (PYPL), consumer discretionary Tesla (TSLA) and communication services play Walt Disney (DIS), soared a collective $3.8 trillion in market value from Feb. 19, 2020. That’s according to an Investor’s Business Daily analysis of data from S&P Global Market Intelligence and MarketSmith. That was the fateful day the S&P 500 started to plunge on the realization a viral outbreak in Asia was going global. Apple, PayPal and Tesla are all members of IBD’s Leaderboard.

And, all the top 19 value-gainers rose by $53 billion in market value — or much more — apiece in the following year. And all told, their rise in value accounts for more than 50% of the market’s total gain in the year since panic over the pandemic first arose in the U.S.

“We currently have concentration levels we have not seen since the 1970s,” said Nick Kalivas, head of factor and core product strategy for Invesco. “In the current market, bigger companies have dominated the index, with a few names in the S&P 500 contributing 40% of the return in the three years ending Dec 30, 2020.

S&P 500 Rising From The Pandemic

S&P 500 gains seem assured now with Covid-19 cases slowing. Investors are up nearly $8 trillion in a year’s time, Wilshire Associates says.

But just a year ago, markets were rattled on the frightening thought of economies largely shutting down. The S&P 500 was about to lose a third of its value in the month following the Feb. 19 peak. It’s been a comeback and then some. Investors are actually up $20.2 trillion from the March 23, 2020 low, Wilshire says.

And in hindsight, there’ve been plenty of ways to make money. Nearly 1,000 stocks in the broad S&P 1500, or two-thirds, added market value in the year following the pre-pandemic peak. And during that time, the S&P 500 is up 15.5%.

But there are definitely standouts.

Technology: The Pandemic S&P 500 Standout

If you had to pick a sector going into the pandemic, technology was certainly the place to be. Half of the top 10 largest market value gains in the past year are in technology.

The Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) is up 32.5% since the pandemic sell-off started. That’s double the S&P 500’s gain during that time. And it’s also the top performance among any of the 11 S&P 500 sectors. Thanks to its holdings in Tesla, the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) is No. 2, with a 28.4% rise.

You can’t overstate the role of technology in the pandemic. The sector’s products helped companies and employees work from home. But huge gains in the stocks helped hold the market up. Apple, alone, added $764.3 billion in market value following the pre-pandemic peak. The stock rose more than 60% during the period, offering a pillar of strength in the crisis. Microsoft (MSFT), too, lived up to its stature by adding nearly $400 billion in market value. Is Apple stock a buy now?

And to be sure, the pandemic allowed FANG stocks to shine. Amazon.com (AMZN) added more than $550 billion in market value and Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) added $360 billion.

But the pandemic also minted some new champions, too. Digital commerce and aversion to paper money turned PayPal into much more than a way to pay for eBay (EBAY) transactions. Shares of the online payment platform jumped 132% in the year of the pandemic selling. That put nearly $200 billion in wealth into investors’ pockets.

Disney Serves Up A Big S&P 500 Surprise

With an event as unexpected as a pandemic, it’s only natural for some surprises. Disney stock must be one of the biggest plot twists.

If you had to pick a company in the epicenter of the pain, it’s Disney. Theme parks closed for months. Cruise ships sat docked. And yet, shares jumped 30% since the pandemic panic, adding $78 billion in market value. It turns out Disney’s secret winner was Disney+, its home-video streaming service. Subscribers scrambled to sign up to watch “The Simpsons,” “Star Wars” and other Disney exclusives. Interestingly, Disney’s added market value outstripped the $70 billion gain by rival streamer Netflix (NFLX). What should you know before buying Disney stock now?

So while the economy is shut down, it’s clear to S&P 500 investors that stocks are very open for business.

Top S&P 500 Market Value Winners Since Pandemic Panic

Largest gainers since Feb. 19, 2020


Company Symbol Stock % Ch. Market Value Gain ($ Billions) Sector Composite Rating
Apple (AAPL) 60.5% $764.3 Information Technology 79
Tesla (TSLA) 325.8% $581.1 Consumer Discretionary 99
Amazon.com (AMZN) 49.7% $556.2 Consumer Discretionary 91
Microsoft (MSFT) 28.7% $393.0 Information Technology 89
Alphabet (GOOGL) 37.0% $359.5 Communication Services 98
PayPal Holdings (PYPL) 131.6% $190.7 Information Technology 97
Nvidia (NVDA) 89.7% $177.0 Information Technology 99
Facebook (FB) 20.3% $124.9 Communication Services 79
Walt Disney (DIS) 30.0% $78.3 Communication Services 26
Broadcom (AVGO) 55.2% $73.2 Information Technology 92
Netflix (NFLX) 39.9% $69.8 Communication Services 94
Nike (NKE) 38.6% $64.3 Consumer Discretionary 67
T-Mobile US (TMUS) 19.5% $63.0 Communication Services 38
Qualcomm (QCOM) 60.0% $61.1 Information Technology 92
Walmart (WMT) 17.6% $57.5 Consumer Staples 23
Charles Schwab (SCHW) 30.5% $55.4 Financials 94
Eli Lilly (LLY) 42.7% $54.9 Health Care 87
Salesforce.com (CRM) 27.8% $54.6 Information Technology 89
Thermo Fisher (TMO) 40.9% $53.6 Health Care 92
Sources: IBD, S&P Global Market Intelligence