New Year’s Eve is around the corner, but there won’t be many corks popping from tech investors, that’s for sure.
After a couple of strong years and many stock market debuts, 2022 will go down as one of the worst years in history for tech stocks.
A list of the worst local performers includes some truly bottom-of-the-barrel returns. Cannabis tech company Agrify in Billerica suffered a 99.6 percent stock drop in 2022. Wireless Internet service Starry and diet-device maker Gelesis were close behind with losses of 99.5 and 99.3 percent, respectively. (All stock prices are as of Dec. 28.)
Agrify suffered a recent sales drop and growing losses while ending the year facing a customer lawsuit and possible hostile takeover. Starry was unable to raise the funds needed to continue building its network and put itself up for sale last month. And Gelesis fell far short of its sales forecast, bringing in about $30 million of revenue compared to a projection of $171 million presented when its merger with Capstar Special Purpose Acquisition Corp. was announced in 2021.
Marketing software company HubSpot shed some $18 billion in market value in 2022, followed by e-commerce seller Wayfair, which lost $17 billion, and testing equipment and robotics maker Teradyne, which lost $12 billion.
Though sales increased 38 percent over the past year at HubSpot, investors have soured on money-losing software companies. With the pandemic fading, Wayfair suffered a double whammy in 2022 — consumers shifted from buying furniture to spending on travel, while supply chain snarls and inflation crimped profits. Meanwhile, Teradyne was hit by slowing orders for semiconductors and other tech products.
Companies like Starry and Gelesis that went public by merging with blank-check firms had a particularly tough year, as investors flipped from euphoria to panic on the so-called SPAC boom. The average 2022 return for 21 such stocks tracked by the Globe was a loss of 70 percent.
Of tech companies that went public the traditional way, the average loss was 45 percent. Toast, which did a standard IPO at the same time Ginkgo Bioworks completed its SPAC deal, lost 51 percent for the year while Ginkgo plunged 80 percent.
Thanks to raging inflation and the Fed raising interest rates, the downbeat performance of local tech stocks wasn’t much different from elsewhere. The S&P 500 lost 20 percent and the Nasdaq Composite plunged 34 percent. And tech giants such as Apple, Amazon, and Meta shed hundreds of billions of dollars of market value.
Of 60 local tech stocks tracked by the Globe, only two posted positive returns: robotics maker Symbotic in Wilmington and payments company WEX in Portland, Maine.
Symbotic’s stock gained 7 percent for the year; the company has a deal to supply its warehouse robots to Walmart. WEX’s stock rose 13 percent; it operates a payments network mainly for fleets of trucks and vans, which benefited from higher gas prices, and expanded successfully into handling payments for employer health benefit plans.
Perhaps in 2023, the winners column will be a little longer.