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The Rich Got Richer During COVID-19. Here’s How American Billionaires Performed

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American Billionaires During COVID

The Briefing

  • In year defined by a global pandemic, many of the wealthiest people in the U.S. saw their wealth grow substantially
  • Since the market bottom in March 2020, the billionaires on this list grew their wealth by 57% on average
  • Elon Musk had the highest net worth increase at $128.9 billion

How American Billionaire Wealth Did During COVID-19

We’ve all been affected by the pandemic-induced mayhem of 2020. But when it comes to finances, some have fared far better than others.

While job loss persists for Americans making less than $20 an hour, the rich have gotten richer. More specifically, the most wealthy American billionaires have seen their net worth bounce back dramatically, thanks to strong stock market performance.

Here’s a look at who’s gotten richer since the market bottom in March 2020, and just how much their net worth has increased since then:

Billionaire Net Worth Growth in 2020

Between March’s market bottom and December 2020, the billionaires included on this list grew their wealth by 57% on average. Interestingly, that’s about 10 percentage points higher than the overall growth of the S&P 500 index during the same time period.

NameMain SourceWealth Growth
(Mar 18–Dec 21, 2020)
Net worth % Growth
(Mar 18– Dec 21, 2020)
Jeff BezosAmazon$73.7 B65%
Elon MuskTesla, SpaceX$128.9 B524%
Bill GatesMicrosoft$ 22.1 B23%
Mark ZuckerbergFacebook$46.8 B86%
Warren BuffettBerkshire Hathaway$17.5 B26%
Larry EllisonOracle$29.5 B50%
Larry PageGoogle$25.4 B50%
Sergey BrinGoogle$25.0 B51%
Steve BallmerMicrosoft$21.4 B41%
Alice WaltonWalmart$13.7 B25%
Jim WaltonWalmart$13.3 B24%
Rob WaltonWalmart$13.5 B25%
MacKenzie ScottAmazon$20.5 B57%
Michael BloombergBloomberg LP$6.9 B14%
Phil KnightNike$22.1 B75%
Total Average$480.3 B57%

Elon Musk saw the highest increase during this period, with a $129 billion boost in net worth—that’s a whopping 523% in gains.

This makes sense considering the year Musk has had. Tesla’s market value has skyrocketed throughout 2020, and SpaceX’s long term valuation doubled after making some monumental strides in the private space industry.

Jeff Bezos saw the second highest growth in net worth with a $74 billion increase. This isn’t surprising, given that Amazon’s stock price has climbed 69% since the beginning of 2020.

But Amazon hasn’t been the only company to benefit from the accelerated e-commerce market—other retailers, like Nike, have also seen a significant boost in online sales this year as well.

Billionaire Wealth in General is Up

It’s not just the billionaires on this list that have increased their wealth. In fact, during the pandemic, billionaire wealth on average has increased 27% worldwide. Growth has been exceptionally strong in tech and healthcare.

Will things level out post-pandemic, or will the wealth gap continue to grow?

Where does this data come from?

Source: Forbes and Yahoo Finance.
Details: Net worth figures for March 2020 were pulled from Forbes 34th annual List of Global Billionaires. Figures for Dec 2020 were taken from Forbes’ Real Time Billionaires List on Dec 21 2020.

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Here’s What $1,000 Invested in Vaccine Stocks Would Be Worth Now

Ever wonder what you would have gotten if you invested $1,000 into the different vaccine stocks at the start of the pandemic?

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Vaccine stocks performance during the pandemic

The Briefing

  • Three of seven COVID-19 vaccine stocks have outperformed the S&P 500 since the beginning of the global pandemic
  • Novavax is the highest performing vaccine stock, returning 1,549% to shareholders

Vaccine Stocks During a Pandemic

It’s often said that with every crisis comes great opportunity.

While such catastrophes do create upheaval and uncertainty in financial markets, they can also lead to new opportunities for investors, as asset classes react to different environments.

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the performance of vaccine stocks have been varied—but with some notable winners that notched triple or quadruple digit returns.

Here’s how much a $1,000 investment would be worth as of March 31, 2021, if you had put money into each vaccine stock at the start of the pandemic:

StockValue of Investment% GrowthMarket Cap ($B)
Novavax$16,4911,549.1%$14.3
Moderna$5,019401.9%$59.9
BioNTech$3,247224.7%$31.3
Johnson & Johnson$1,25225.2%$419.8
Pfizer$1,12212.2%$207.2
AstraZeneca$1,12112.1%$93.8
Sanofi$1,0969.6%$105.2

The Business of Vaccines

The returns on vaccine stocks have varied greatly. They are staggering in the case of Novavax and Moderna, but also seem quite underwhelming, when considering the likes of Sanofi, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer.

One factor for the discrepancy in stock price performance is the revenue potential from vaccine sales relative to the rest of the existing business, as vaccine sales will have a much greater impact on the fundamentals of smaller companies.

For example, before the pandemic, Novavax had revenues of just $18.7 million—this meant that capturing any portion of global vaccine sales would create massive value for shareholders. On the flipside, vaccine sales are much less likely to impact the fundamentals of Sanofi’s business, since the company already is generating $40.5 billion in revenue.

To put it into perspective, analysts are expecting total sales from COVID-19 vaccines to be around $100 billion, with $40 billion in post-tax profits.

Vaccine Stocks vs the S&P 500

Even in a booming and valuable industry, it’s difficult to identify the long-term leaders. For example, in the mobile phone market, there was a time where the likes of Motorola, Nokia, and Blackberry appeared untouchable, but eventually lost out.

Similarly, with the limited information available at the start of the pandemic, few, if any, could have separated the winners and losers from this group with accuracy.

In the past year, the S&P 500 grew 44.9%—meaning that only three of the seven vaccine stocks have seen their share prices outperform the market.

Nobody said helping solve a global pandemic guarantees a pay off.

Where does this data come from?

Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence
Notes: Investment growth is calculated between March 11, 2020-March 31, 2021. All market capitalization values are as of March 31, 2021.

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Bitcoin is the Fastest Asset to Reach a $1 Trillion Market Cap

Bitcoin is now part of a select very few assets that hold a market cap greater than $1 trillion. How long did it take to get there?

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Bitcoin fastest asset to $1 trillion

The Briefing

  • Bitcoin (BTC) hit a $1 trillion market cap in just 12 years, making it the fastest asset to do so
  • Investor sentiment towards BTC appears to be at extreme bullishness, with the asset adding roughly $500 billion in market cap just in 2021

Bitcoin is the Fastest Asset to Reach $1 Trillion

The world is moving forward at an accelerated pace. Historically, it’s taken multiple decades for companies to be worth $1 trillion. For bitcoin, it took just 12 short years to reach such a milestone.

To help put things into perspective, here’s a look at how long it took America’s biggest tech companies to reach the $1 trillion market cap.

AssetTime To Reach $1 TrillionCurrent Market Cap
Microsoft44 years$1.9 trillion
Apple42 years$2.2 trillion
Amazon24 years$1.7 trillion
Google21 years$1.5 trillion
Bitcoin12 years$1.1 trillion

Market caps as of April 12, 2021

Extreme Bullish Sentiment

Bitcoin has been subject to widespread commotion in markets.

At the start of 2021, the cryptocurrency had a more modest market cap of $500 billion, but has gained more than another $500 billion since. An onslaught of headlines has contributed to extremely bullish investor sentiment, including:

1. CEOs begin to show interest
Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey have made sizable investments in bitcoin through Tesla and Square, respectively. It’s estimated the gain from Tesla’s $1.5 billion bitcoin investment was greater than the profits from the entirety of their business in 2020.

2. New ETFs on the block
Multiple Bitcoin ETFs focused were recently approved by Canadian regulators and some have already launched on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). For many years, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) was the only readily accessible investment vehicle trading on equity markets that had exposure to BTC.

3. Financial institutions finally joining in?
Mastercard, Visa, and Bank of New York Mellon have made announcements to make it easier for customers to use cryptocurrencies.

On to the Next Trillion?

Future projections for the price of bitcoin are garnering more extreme and widening price targets.

The accelerated rate of change today has many of the Big Tech companies already inching closer to the next trillion in value. Will bitcoin follow suit?

Where does this data come from?

Source: coinmarketcap.com
Notes: Financial data is as of April 12, 2021

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