The share price of 'buy now, pay later' company Afterpay was down 33 per cent yesterday as the coronavirus sell-off continues to plague markets.
Afterpay was one of the 10 largest companies on the ASX All Technology Index when it opened a month ago.
At the time, Afterpay’s had a market capitalisation of nearly $10 billion but at the close of trade on Wednesday, it was worth just over $3 billion with shares trading for less than $13 apiece – a steep fall from more than $40 last month.
Such a steep drop in Afterpay’s value comes as the retail sector poises for a downturn as shoppers avoid once-crowded malls for fear of catching and spreading the coronavirus.
Afterpay works like a form of layby where shoppers can ‘buy’ products and have payments split across a number of weeks for no extra cost, unless the direct debit fails.
In a note to investors last Friday, Afterpay said its financial position was still strong despite the ever-sliding stock price.
“Due to the dynamic nature of Afterpay’s system and the short duration of our receivables book, we are able to manage losses in real time by identifying them early and modifying risk parameters in the system immediately,” the company said.
Bad times for tech shares
Afterpay’s significant stock price drop reflects broader falls in the ASX and global share markets.
Since its opening in late February, the ASX All Tech Index has fallen 38 per cent, with no real sign of stabilising as sectors enabled by tech companies see a general decline in spending and value.
Webjet, another billion-dollar company when the All Tech Index first started, had a market capitalisation of around $510 million at market close yesterday.
Webjet’s shares were selling for less than $4 (they were trading at $14 apiece in January) and are still in freefall as Qantas announced this morning that it would suspend all international flights due to the coronavirus.
Xero, one of the Index’s biggest company at launch, has seen its market capitalisation shed $2 billion in less than a month.
Of course, US tech giants are also faring poorly – except they have farther to fall.
Microsoft, Apple, Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Amazon have lost more than $US1 trillion since the coronavirus sell-off began.
Alphabet became the latest tech giant to be worth $US1 trillion, but has since slid down to a meagre $US750 billion market capitalisation.