Amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, the Dow Jones Industrial Average just posted its worth quarter since 1987 — not even the 2008 global financial crisis caused such a massive selloff of securities across most industries. What does this mean for the ordinary investor?
Despite the commitments of some governments, most notably the Trump administration, to prop-up suffering companies, the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to bankrupt several industries. The oil & energy sector, as well as the airline industry, are the most affected so far. Even industry leaders are facing a historic plunge in their share prices: the stock of Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) dropped from around $110 to $76 and the stock of Delta Airlines (NYSE:DAL), which hovered just below $60 before the crisis, can be now had for $22 and some change.
Value investors like Warren Buffett must now feel like a child in a candy store: there are so many great companies to be had for an absolute bargain. But is it the right time to buy?
Obviously, it is difficult to say without a crystal ball, but the general consensus is to wait. We do not quite know yet how bad the impact of coronavirus will be on the global economy. It is quite likely that stocks will plunge even lower as new data about the state of economies around the world comes out in the coming weeks.
Even after we defeat the virus, it will certainly take months, and maybe even years, for things to return back to “normal”. The demand for oil, for example, is so low that we are running out of places to store it — despite the fact that oil never cost less in the last 18 years. This global oil glut will certainly take a toll on companies in the oil & energy sector. Airlines will have a tough time convincing passengers that it is safe to fly again. Millions of people who are now jobless due to the pandemic will think twice before spending every dollar. Even though companies like Chevron are now trading below their book value, things may get worse before they get any better.