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Deep Dive

Philip van Doorn

Feb. 28, 2020, 9:39 a.m. EST

These are the only 7 stocks in the S&P 500 that rose while the market plunged

The company whose stock has risen the most is working on drug trials to fight COVID-19

By Philip van Doorn, MarketWatch


Bloomberg News
Gilead Sciences is holding drug trials to see if its Remdesivir medication is effective against the COVID-10 virus.

In any market environment, there are exceptions to the trend. But there aren’t many this time.

Since the S&P 500 (S&P:SPX)  hit its last closing record on Feb. 19, the index has skidded 12% — and only seven of the component stocks haven’t declined through the close on Feb. 27. See the list below.

Before you get there, here’s a list of stocks in the index that took the worst beatings, along with a summary of how the 11 sectors performed.

It might surprise you that Tesla (NAS:TSLA)  isn’t on that list of decliners, but the electric car maker hasn’t yet met the requirements to be included in the S&P 500. Before the outbreak of the coronavirus strain known as COVID-19, it appeared likely to be added to the index by the end of 2020. Tesla’s stock was down nearly $100 (13%) on Feb. 27 to close at $679. The stock was down $238 (26%) since it set a closing record of $917.42 on Feb. 19.

Read: Tesla’s stock tumbles toward biggest-ever weekly drop

So here are the exceptions — seven S&P 500 stocks that rose in price between Feb. 19 and Feb. 27:

Company Ticker Industry Price change since Feb. 19 Price change - 2020 Decline from 52-week high Price change - 2019
Gilead Sciences Inc. (NAS:GILD) Biotechnology 7.9% 11.8% -7.9% 3.9%
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NAS:REGN) Biotechnology 7.7% 14.9% -8.2% 0.5%
Clorox Co. (NYS:CLX) Household/Personal Care 2.3% 9.9% -3.1% -0.4%
E-Trade Financial Corp. (NAS:ETFC) Investment Banks/Brokers 2.3% 1.3% -19.8% 3.4%
CME Group Inc. Class A (NAS:CME) Investment Banks/Brokers 1.4% 4.8% -6.6% 6.7%
Newmont Corp. (NYS:NEM) Precious Metals 0.8% 7.1% -9.4% 25.4%
Cboe Global Markets Inc. (BATS:CBOE) Investment Banks/Brokers 0.7% 1.0% -5.2% 22.7%
Source: FactSet

You can click the tickers for more about each company.

• Gilead Sciences (NAS:GILD)  has announced two Phase 3 clinical studies to measure the effectiveness of its Remdesivir medication in countering COVID-19 infections. The company’s Feb. 26 press release has more details. Jefferies analyst Michael Yee rates Gilead a “buy,” but wrote in a note to clients on Feb. 26 that although he is pleased that fighting the virus is a ‘very high priority” for Gilead’s management, “the financial implications are modest (pricing, one-time use, no tail).”

• Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NAS:REGN)  ws upgraded to a “Buy” by Jefferies analyst Biren Amin on Feb. 25, because he believes competitive risk to the company’s Eylea macular degeneration therapy has been minimized because of safety concerns over Novartis AG’s (NYS:NVS)   (SWX:CH:NOVN)  Beovu medication.

• Clorox (NYS:CLX)  is an obvious defensive stock during a time when people are concerned about the spread of a deadly virus and reaching for bleach. But Charles Lemonides, founder of ValueWorks LLC in New York, argued that for long-term investors, Clorox’s high valuation to earnings actually makes it a risky stock.

• E-Trade Financial (NAS:ETFC)  agreed on Feb. 20 to be acquired by Morgan Stanley (NYS:MS)  in an all-stock deal valued at $58.74 a share at that time. E-Trade’s shares closed at $45.95 Thursday. The deal calls for an exchange of 1.0432 Morgan Stanley shares for every E-Trade share. Morgan Stanley’s shares closed at $45.41 on Feb. 27, so based on those numbers, E-Trade’s takeout price would be $47.37.

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