Coronavirus panic boosts healthcare and tech fortunes

Exceptions to last week's stock market dive included companies working on treatments for the disease and those targeting housebound consumers

FILE - In this April 18, 2019, file photo shows a sign for Zoom Video Communications ahead Nasdaq IPO in New York. Zoom's stock touched $110 during trading Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, a level it's reached just once since its shares began trading last spring. The company has said it's seeing more business for people wanting to meet online. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
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Not everyone lost money in last week’s epic stock market wipeout.

Even as a tide of anxiety over the fast-spreading coronavirus vaporised more than $6 trillion (Dh22.04tn) from global equity markets, a select few grew richer.

They all lead businesses that could profit in some way from the virus and proliferating numbers of hygiene-obsessed, housebound consumers.

Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel briefly became a billionaire after the Massachusetts-based company shipped an experimental coronavirus vaccine to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for clinical testing in humans, sending its shares soaring. The stock surged 42 per cent, and Mr Bancel controls a 9.2 per cent stake now worth $790 million, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which is working to develop a treatment for the coronavirus, was the best performer last week in the S&P 500, gaining 10 per cent, and it was one of only two companies whose shares climbed during that stretch. That added $45m to the fortune of George Yancopoulos, chief scientist at the New York-based company.

The global focus on virus prevention has also enriched Malaysia’s Lim Wee Chai, who owns a controlling stake in the world’s biggest maker of medical gloves, Top Glove. His net worth reached $1bn shortly after the virus began to emerge as a threat.

As containment efforts threaten to close more schools and businesses, companies that facilitate remote working and studying have got a boost.

Virginia-based K12, which offers educational services for schoolchildren designed for online delivery, jumped 19 per cent last week, adding about $5m to the net worth of chief executive Nathaniel Davis.

Eric Yuan, the founder of Zoom Video Communications, added $200m on the week, bringing his net worth to $5.5bn, as the number of users of his videoconferencing service skyrocketed. The California-based firm is averaging 43 per cent more downloads this year than in 2019, with most activity within the past month, Sanford C Bernstein analyst Zane Chrane wrote in a research note.

Zoom has lifted time limits for users of its free service in China and has ramped up monitoring of its servers to ensure reliability amid the spike in usage, Mr Yuan said in a blog post Tuesday.

“The growing epidemic has broadened my view on what it means to be a video communications technology provider in times of need,” he wrote.