What makes firms buck the global stock market rout?
Published: Apr 01, 2020 11:13 PM

Meric Greenbaum, Designated Market Maker IMC financial looks up at the board before the opening bell right before trading halted on the New York Stock Exchange on March 9, 2020 in New York. Photo: AFP

Even in the darkest of trading times amid a harrowing global battle against the coronavirus pandemic, traces of optimism can be found in markets across the Pacific, with a handful of stocks such as Netflix and KFC parent company Yum China Holdings bucking an overall market rout.

There's nothing new in Wall Street. Similarly, there's nothing new in the playbook of these few lucky winners: either fitting into demands fueled by the virus outbreak or having better prepared themselves for unpredictable crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The performance of FAANG, the quintuple super stars that epitomize the US tech prowess, could offer a glimpse into what underpins the strength of certain stocks even though the fast spread of the deadly disease has ruthlessly slammed global stocks. 

Our the five most popular US tech firms: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet (with Google as its mainstay), Amazon and Netflix have outshone the other three that closed out the first quarter with double-digit losses year, albeit still faring better than the S&P 500 index which sank 20 percent during the first quarter. 

Amazon has found itself much busier than it was before the novel coronavirus became a concern for Americans, as people race to stockpile food and household products. As of Tuesday's close, the US e-commerce behemoth had gained 5.51 percent this year to date. 

Netflix has proven to be an even bigger winner of the pandemic than Amazon. The NASDAQ-listed firm pulled off a rally of 16.05 percent in the first quarter while the NASDAQ retreated 14.18 percent during the period. 

The Chinese trio known as BAT - the tech firms of Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, turned in a less impressive performance in the first quarter though. 

Shares in Baidu dived 20.26 percent during the past quarter in its NASDAQ listing, while the NYSE-listed Alibaba fell 8.31 percent. HK-listed Tencent edged down 0.32 percent to become the best-performer among the trio.

In the Chinese mainland market, tech shares that had led a bull run in the first two months ceded their leadership to a mix of stocks categorized as being defensive, including face masks, influenza treatment, vaccine and ventilators, food and farm produce.

Yum China Holdings, the parent firm of KFC and Pizza Hut is another typical example of how some businesses, even though theoretically being among the hardest-hit, turned out to have done a better job if measured by stock performance.

The readily availability of food delivery apps and Yum China's proprietary takeaway ordering apps offered the company a buffer against the coronavirus-induced plight. 

Global Times