For the Peloton team and our families, like our clients and friends, last quarter was a blur. Everything has been so dominated by the COVID-19 outbreak and efforts to contain the virus, it seems strange to discuss anything else. Self-imposed shutdowns of varying degrees across the globe have rendered economic data meaningless in the short-term, yet markets react daily to both positive and negative surprises. Without context, the spike in unemployment was shocking. Likewise, the hiring binge that has accompanied state-by-state reopenings appears stunning.
The broad equity indexes continue to fluctuate with elevated volatility, but overall have staged a massive rebound from the March 23 low. The S&P 500 has gained 35% since then after plunging 30% to start the year. For the year, the S&P was lower by just 2% through June 30. During all times–“normal” and unprecedented–it is important to remember that the stock market consists of individual stocks that are ownership stakes in individual operating companies, all of which perform differently. “The market” is merely an aggregation of individual stock price movements over time. In fact, a number of stocks are setting all-time highs despite the pandemic. Even during these unusual times, investors are buying and selling based assessments of future earnings levels and growth rates (presumably more normal), not current data being reported.