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The 25 Worst Stocks by Shareholder Wealth Losses (1926-2022)

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The 25 worst stocks shown as bubbles and sized by their shareholder wealth losses since they were first listed on a U.S. stock exchange. Worldcom is the worst with losses of $102 billion.

The 25 Worst Stocks by Shareholder Wealth Losses (1926-2022)

Among publicly-listed U.S. companies, the 25 worst stocks have lost shareholders a collective $1.2 trillion since 1926. Put another way, just 0.1% of all stocks have led to 14% of all cumulative losses in shareholder wealth.

In this graphic, we use data from Henrik Bessembinder of Arizona State University to show the worst stocks of the last century.

How Are Shareholder Wealth Losses Calculated?

Bessembinder took three steps to measure lifetime shareholder wealth losses:

  1. Considered U.S. stocks in the Center for Research in Security Prices database from 1926 (or when the stock was first listed) until 2022 (or when the stock was delisted).
  2. Measured share price changes as well as cash flows to/from shareholders including dividends, spinoffs, share buybacks, and new share issuances.
  3. Calculated the excess wealth generated compared to investing in one-month Treasury bills over the same time period.

If a company exited the database during the period, Bessembinder calculated its delisting return based on any proceeds from mergers or acquisitions as well as estimates of any remaining value after delistings for negative reasons.

The 25 Worst Stocks in Modern History

With this context in mind, here are the worst stocks since 1926.

RankCompany Lifetime Wealth LossesFirst MonthLast Month
1WORLDCOM-$102BDec‐80Jul‐02
2RIVIAN AUTOMOTIVE-$92BDec‐21Dec‐22
3VIAVI SOLUTIONS-$87BDec‐93Dec‐22
4LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES-$85BMay‐96Nov‐06
5WACHOVIA-$68BJan‐73Dec‐08
6DUPONT DE NEMOURS-$60BOct‐17Dec‐22
7DAIMLER-$60BDec‐98Jun‐10
8QWEST COMMUNICATIONS INTL-$59BJul‐97Mar‐11
9COUPANG-$55BApr‐21Dec‐22
10NORTEL NETWORKS-$54BDec‐75Jan‐09
11DEUTSCHE BANK-$47BNov‐01Dec‐22
12COINBASE-$45BMay‐21Dec‐22
13SPRINT NEXTEL-$40BMay‐63Jul‐13
14BROADWING-$38BAug‐00Jan‐07
15TIME WARNER-$37BApr‐92Jun‐18
16KRAFT HEINZ-$35BAug‐15Dec‐22
17ARCELORMITTAL SA LUXEMBOURG-$35BSep‐97Dec‐22
18PALM-$34BApr‐00Jun‐10
19UBER-$34BJun‐19Dec‐22
20GLOBAL CROSSING-$33BSep‐98Oct‐11
21DOORDASH-$32BJan‐21Dec‐22
22PARAMOUNT-$30BJul‐87Dec‐22
23SNOWFLAKE-$30BOct‐20Dec‐22
24SYCAMORE NETWORKS-$29BNov‐99Mar‐13
25AIRBNB-$27BJan‐21Dec‐22

WorldCom, number one on the list, was a long-distance phone provider and handled internet data. In response to a surplus of telecommunications capacity that reduced pricing power, WorldCom began “cooking its books” to meet growth targets.

An SEC investigation of the accounting scandal found that executives improperly reduced costs by more than $7 billion and exaggerated revenue by at least $958 million. Once the fraud was discovered, WorldCom filed for the largest bankruptcy filing in American history as of July 2002.

Some of the worst stocks by lifetime wealth losses have gone public within the last few years. For instance, Doordash was one of the largest IPOs in 2020, with investor enthusiasm driving its share price 86% higher in the first day. The company has seen its revenue and U.S. market share increase, but it has yet to produce a 12-month profit.

Common Threads

Among the worst-performing stocks, there are some patterns. For instance, eight of the 25 stocks on this list belong to the telecommunications industry. Like WorldCom, many of these companies also engaged in accounting fraud to inflate their financial results.

Financial fraud can be hard to detect, but investors can look for potential red flags such as consistent sales growth while competitors are struggling. The SEC noted in its WorldCom investigation that “WorldCom claimed it was successfully managing industry trends that were hurting all of its competitors”.

Another commonality among some of the worst stocks was the hype around their IPOs. High valuations that are not supported by profitability may lead to large shareholder losses.

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Who Owns the Most Vehicles per Capita, by Country?

Here are the highest vehicles per capita by country as a growing global middle class is fueling car ownership rates around the world.

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This bar graph shows the number of vehicles per 1,000 people around the world.

Who Owns the Most Vehicles per Capita, by Country?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

In 2020, there were 289 million vehicles in use in America, or about 18% of the global total.

With one of the largest car ownership rates worldwide, the number of U.S. cars on the road have more than doubled since the 1960s. But how does ownership compare to other countries, and who is seeing the fastest growth rates amid a rising global middle class?

This graphic shows vehicles per capita by country, based on data from the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA).

Highest Car Ownership Rates Worldwide

Below, we rank countries based on the number of registered vehicles in use per 1,000 people, including both passenger cars and commercial vehicles as of 2020:

CountryNumber of Vehicles in Use
per 1000 Inhabitants
Average Annual Growth Rate
2015-2020
🇳🇿 New Zealand8693%
🇺🇸 U.S.8602%
🇵🇱 Poland7614%
🇮🇹 Italy7561%
🇦🇺 Australia7372%
🇨🇦 Canada7073%
🇫🇷 France7041%
🇨🇿 Czechia6583%
🇵🇹 Portugal6402%
🇳🇴 Norway6351%
🇦🇹 Austria6322%
🇬🇧 UK6322%
🇩🇪 Germany6272%
🇪🇸 Spain6272%
🇬🇷 Greece6171%
🇯🇵 Japan6120%
🇨🇭 Switzerland6041%
🇧🇪 Belgium5901%
🇳🇱 Netherlands5882%
🇫🇮 Finland5771%
🇸🇪 Sweden5441%
🇩🇰 Denmark5402%
🇮🇪 Ireland5403%
🇲🇾 Malaysia5356%
🇸🇰 Slovakia5133%
🇱🇾 Libya4904%
🇧🇬 Bulgaria485-1%
🇭🇷 Croatia4743%
🇸🇾 Syria4727%
🇭🇺 Hungary4634%
🇰🇷 South Korea4582%
🇷🇴 Romania4387%
🇮🇱 Israel4044%
🇷🇺 Russia3892%
🇧🇾 Belarus3871%
🇲🇽 Mexico3584%
🇹🇼 Taiwan3441%
🇦🇪 UAE3438%
🇷🇸 Serbia3304%
🇦🇷 Argentina3110%
🇹🇭 Thailand2775%
🇨🇱 Chile2461%
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan226-1%
🇨🇳 China22314%
🇹🇷 Türkiye2204%
🇧🇷 Brazil2141%
🇺🇦 Ukraine192-1%
🇮🇷 Iran1832%
🇿🇦 South Africa1761%
🇪🇨 Ecuador1523%
🇻🇪 Venezuela149-1%
🇩🇿 Algeria1443%
🇲🇦 Morocco1124%
🇨🇴 Colombia1111%
🇮🇶 Iraq1114%
🇵🇪 Peru884%
🇮🇩 Indonesia785%
🇪🇬 Egypt644%
🇳🇬 Nigeria565%
🇻🇳 Vietnam5017%
🇵🇭 Philippines383%
🇮🇳 India3310%
🇵🇰 Pakistan207%

Clinching top spot is New Zealand, a country known for its love of cars.

With nearly nine cars on the road to every 10 people, this figure is notably high considering that children make up about 20% of the population. The majority of cars are imported second hand from Japan thanks to a wave of deregulation in the 1980s along with the country being a major producer of right-hand drive cars.

The U.S. falls close behind, with a clear preference for trucks and SUVs. In fact, the Ford F-1 Series has been the best-selling vehicle in America for 42 consecutive years.

In Europe, Poland has the highest number of vehicles per person, but one of the lowest share of electric vehicles (EVs). While EVs make up nearly 16% of all cars in top-ranking country Norway, they comprise 0.1% in Poland. On average, EVs account for 0.8% of passenger cars in the European Union.

Driven by an expanding middle class, Vietnam has seen the fastest growth in ownership. Between 2015 and 2020, the motorization rate grew by an astonishing 17% each year. Additionally, China witnessed 14% growth while India’s vehicles per 1,000 people increased 10% annually over the period.

The Top EV Markets, by Country

As EV sales gain momentum, here are the biggest markets worldwide, based on the number of all-EV cars in use as of 2022:

CountryEstimated Number of EVs in Use
2022
🇨🇳 China11,000,000
🇺🇸 U.S.2,100,000
🇩🇪 Germany1,000,000
🇫🇷 France620,000
🇳🇴 Norway590,000
🇬🇧 UK550,000
🇳🇱 Netherlands340,000
🇰🇷 South Korea300,000
🇨🇦 Canada250,000
🇯🇵 Japan210,000

Source: IEA Global EV Outlook 2023

China is home to over half of the world’s EVs.

Its foothold on the global EV market can be explained by its close proximity to the raw materials used in EV batteries. In fact, China produces roughly 70% of the world’s rare earth metals and has more battery production capacity than all other countries combined.

Adding to this, China developed key government policies that specifically tackled operational hurdles, such as battery constraints, leading to innovation in core technologies. In 2023, EVs made up 31% of all car sales in China, boosted by government incentives and strong consumer demand.

Norway is another leader in the EV market, whose government began introducing EV policies as early as 1990. By 2025, the country aims to phase out internal combustion engine vehicle sales completely. About 80% of all vehicles sales in Norway were EVs in 2022, the highest in the world.

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