Interactive Investor

Most-bought US stocks in 2020

29th December 2020 12:53

Graeme Evans from interactive investor


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2020 was the year of tech, with American stocks hitting record highs, but which ones were you buying?

Turbocharged Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), FAANG stocks Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and debutant Airbnb (NASDAQ:ABNB) placed Wall Street at the heart of trading strategies for many interactive investor customers in 2020.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most-bought US stock on our platform was Elon Musks Tesla as investors jumped on board the booming electric car maker, which has surged in value by a remarkable 700% to $660 billion (£489 billion) by the end of the year.

Tesla was also the most-traded stock by value across Wall Street, with Refinitiv figures showing $18 billion of shares being exchanged every day to beat the next best, Apple, at $14 billion.

The explosion of interest in Tesla since it announced its first profit in October 2019 has wrong-footed short-sellers and taken it into what many regard as bubble territory.

Production is still only a mere 5% of German car giant Volkswagen and yet Tesla has overtaken VW and Japans Toyota to become easily the world's most valuable car maker. It is also significantly larger than US giants Ford Motor (NYSE:F) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) combined.

Interest in Tesla got another leg up before Christmas when funds tracking the S&P 500 index bought shares to reflect the companys inclusion on Wall Streets main benchmark.

Nasdaq-traded Tesla failed to gain entry in September, but that changed after its fifth consecutive quarterly profit ensured it became the most valuable stock ever granted admission to the S&P 500. It accounts for about 1.6% of the index.

The shares have generated big profits for interactive investor clients, as well as for those with exposure to Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (LSE:SMT) through its 12% holding in Tesla.

The managers of the FTSE 100-index listed trust argue that the underlying picture for Tesla is “far from an aberration”, although with gains so large they were recently forced to sell 40% of their holding to rebalance the portfolio. Many ii customers have done the same or taken profits, with Tesla the most-sold international stock on our platform in 2020.

The continued tech boom has enabled investors on this side of the Atlantic to offset some of their pandemic losses, particularly with Nasdaq the first major index to recover all its lost ground as working-from-home trends propelled Apple and Amazon higher still.

Apples valuation broke the $1 trillion landmark in 2018, only to double again when becoming the first to reach $2 billion last summer. A stock split giving investors four new shares for every one owned has made the stock more attractive to retail investors, with the iPhone maker the second most popular international company on our platform in 2020.

Amazon and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) are third and fourth, respectively, but like Apple they are high on the list of most-sold stocks as investors pare holdings on fears that valuations have become too stretched or that increased regulation poses a serious threat.

Not that theres any sign of the tech mania slowing in New York after Decembers first day dealings for DoorDash (NYSE:DASH) and Airbnb (NASDAQ:ABNB) left shares 80% and more than 100% higher respectively.

Other international stocks snapped up by interactive investor customers during 2020 included Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ:ZM) after the conferencing tool became one of the buzzwords of the pandemic through its role in work calls or family quizzes. Thats reflected in its share price, which soared by as much as 735% during the year.

Chinese electric car maker Nio (NYSE:NIO), which is listed in New York, also generated Tesla-like levels of excitement after rising 1,275% at its peak to become our platforms fifth most-traded international stock.

Tech giants Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Google owner Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) were also in the top 10, but there was no place for Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) as the benefit from stay-at-home trends was offset by the threat of competition from Disney (NYSE:DIS), Apple and others.

New York-traded Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), which is Chinas equivalent to Amazon, also attracted plenty of interest as our 10th most-popular overseas buy. Its fortunes suffered a setback in November, however, when the Ant digital payments business in which Alibaba holds a 33% stake was forced to pull a record-breaking IPO due to regulatory concerns.

Space tourism has been another frontier for interactive investor customers to explore in 2020 after Sir Richard Bransons Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) was the 11th most-bought international stock. Shares in the human spaceflight company have been on a bumpy ride, but are still double their IPO price in October 2019.

And Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), whose shares have soared since the drug discovery company disclosed its Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective, was the 12th most-bought overseas stock on the ii platform.

Most-bought US stocks in 2020

   Company Name

   Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) 
   Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) 
3    Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)
4    Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)
5    Nio (NYSE:NIO)
6    Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ:ZM)
7    Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) 
9    Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) 
10  Alibaba (NYSE:BABA)

The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this data may not be suitable for all investors and, if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website.

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