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May 10, 2022

Shopify's swoon wipes out equivalent of Kazakhstan's GDP in shareholder value

We are rebalancing from being a pandemic success story to supporting offline retail: Shopify president

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The well-documented collapse of shares in Shopify Inc. has been making headlines, as Canada’s latest tech darling follows a well-worn path (for companies other than Royal Bank of Canada) from being the top dog on the S&P/TSX Composite Index to a return back to earth.

The drop wiped out about $213 billion (US$172 billion, for comparisons later) from Shopify’s market cap from its peak on Nov. 19, 2021, to the close of trading May 9 – just 116 trading sessions, working out to about $1.8 billion per day in value destruction.

The plunge is reminiscent of the path drawn by any non-financial stock that has claimed the mantle of the largest company on the TSX, as firms including Nortel Networks Inc., EnCana Corp. and Potash Corp. briefly rose to the top spot before seeing their market capitalization crater.

Shopify shares came under further pressure last week, after its earnings outlook missed expectations. Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke has been critical of the analyst community, taking to Twitter to ponder why there isn’t more accountability for analysts.

Here’s how Shopify’s $213-billion plunge compares, by the numbers:

  • The market cap evaporation eclipses the entire $178-billion value of Royal Bank of Canada, which regained its title of Canada’s most valuable company.
  • The swoon is larger than the annual gross domestic product of Kazakhstan, which stood at US$170 billion in 2020, according to World Bank data.
  • 13 Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers. The new flagship of the U.S. Navy costs US$12.9 billion per unit, so investors could field a massive fleet with the equivalent of the $213 billion lost in the market washout. (As it stands, the U.S. Navy has only 11 aircraft carriers.)
  • The entire Ottawa-Gatineau housing market. According to the Teranet-National Home Price Index, the aggregate value of dwellings in the capital region is $212.85 billion, coming in just under the $213-billion wire.