There’s never been a more joyous time to watch tech stock prices fall. As markets opened on Monday, Pfizer shared the news that a trial of its coronavirus vaccine had shown it to be 90 percent effective. American markets soared to all-time highs while many stocks that benefit from the public being holed up in quarantine are now taking a hit—chief among them: Zoom.
Tech stocks have been some of the biggest market winners since the covid-19 pandemic has kept people indoors and socially isolated. But analysts have warned for months that the wild ride could end as lockdowns are lifted among the distribution of a vaccine. It appears we might be seeing some of the first inklings of that shift this morning. Here’s a selection of how some quarantine-friendly companies’ stock prices were doing within the last couple of hours:
Zoom - down over 15%
Etsy - down around 18%
Netflix - down over 7%
PayPal - down over 6%
Take-Two Interactive - down around 9%
Activision - down close to 6%
Peloton - down more than 20%
Some of these stocks, like Etsy, have recovered some of their losses since the morning bell, but others, like Peloton, have continued to see their market value fall.
Zoom is probably the company with the most on the line right now. The video chat service became a phenomenon as lockdowns took hold and it saw its revenue spike by 169% in June. In general, the growth in userbase and the unexpected cash-influx should leave Zoom better-positioned than it’s ever been if the day comes when the pandemic has been contained. But at the same time, its competitors are some of the most powerful tech firms in the world.
A company like PayPal is used to ups-and-downs. And Netflix should be fine, though everyone in the streaming business will be facing troubles for the foreseeable future as the well of content that’s completed production continues to run dry.
The prospect of some kind of hope for the future feels good, but the markets have been optimistic since it first began to look like Joe Biden would win the White House last week. Pfizer’s positive outlook for its vaccine is likely just feeding into that overall feeling of greater stability—there’s still a long way to go. A peer-review of the data from the Pfizer vaccine trial has not been published yet, but scientists told the New York Times that the initial data is encouraging and exceeded their expectations of effectiveness.
Still nursing their wounds from their loss in the presidential election, Trump-world is by turns salty and elated by the vaccine news. Donald Trump Jr. implied on Twitter that today’s announcement is all part of a conspiracy to harm his father. Smarter former and current figures from the administration like Nikki Haley and Mike Pence credited the public-private partnership approach of “Operation Warp Speed” for making the new vaccine data possible.
But Kathrin Jansen, a senior vice president and the head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, made it clear to the Times that Operation Warp Speed provided no money for the development of the vaccine and sought to distance the company from government programs. In general, Pfizer has subtly and not-so-subtly made it known that it fears President Trump’s rhetoric on vaccines could harm public confidence in a vaccine. In October, Gallup found that only 50% of American respondents would be willing to take a vaccine if it were ready now.
President-elect Biden released a statement this morning congratulating the men and women at Pfizer on their hopeful steps toward a vaccine. But Biden warned that an end to the pandemic is still months away and noted that even after a vaccine is approved it will still take months to distribute. The former vice president said that social distancing is still an American priority. “Today’s announcement promises the chance to that next year, but the tasks before us now remain the same,” Biden wrote. Science is back, baby.