When the stock of Meta Platforms Inc. (META) plunged more than 26% on Feb. 3, 2022, erasing $232 billion in market value, it eclipsed a record set by Apple Inc. (AAPL) 17 months earlier.
As Apple's multiple appearances on this list and the other names on it suggest, it takes a very popular stock and a particularly valuable company to wipe out a historically notable amount of shareholder wealth in a single day. A poorly received earnings report, an adverse court ruling—sometimes even a tweet—can all send investors rushing for the exits.
More recently, technology companies with particularly large market capitalizations have suffered large drops in market value in the absence of company-specific news.
The companies large enough to suffer such massive one-day declines also often have the long-term advantages required for the share price to recover. Notably, Meta shares were worth more after the latest record-setting decline than before the last one in 2018.
- A handful of the largest companies dominate the ranking of the largest market losses suffered in a single day.
- On Feb. 3, 2022, Meta Platforms set a new record for the largest single-day decline in market capitalization with a loss of $232 billion after a disappointing quarterly earnings report, eclipsing Apple's (AAPL) $182 billion decline in 2020.
- While earnings results and profit warnings are the most common catalysts for such declines in value, court rulings, regulatory risks, and executives' public statements can also set off sharp drops.
- More recently, some large drops were the result of general market declines, amid sharply increased capitalizations for the largest technology companies.
1. Meta Platforms
Meta shares gained for five straight trading days ahead of the social media giant's earnings report for the fourth quarter of 2021, trimming the decline since the stock's record close on Sept. 1, 2021, to about 15%.
Then Meta posted quarterly earnings and a first-quarter revenue outlook short of analysts' expectations. The company also reported a small but landmark decline in the number of daily users of Facebook, its most popular and profitable social network.
The share price dropped 26% from $323 at the Feb. 2 market close to $237.76 a day later.
The iPhone maker's stock lost $182 billion in market value on Sept. 3, 2020, though it was only down 8% that day, dropping to $120.88 from $131.40 at the prior close. The drop came amid broad profit-taking in tech stocks that day rather than any news specific to Apple.
The stock had climbed more than 80% over the five months before the drop. Apple shares regained all of the ground lost that day by Dec. 22, 2020, less than four months later.
The market capitalization of software giant Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) dropped by $177 billion on March 16, 2020, as shares fell nearly 15% near the end of the sharp and deep market sell-off prompted by the initial COVID-19 outbreak.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 2,997 points, or 13%, that day. A week later, Microsoft would temporarily displace Apple as the world's most valuable company once again at the market's pandemic lows. Microsoft's share price recouped all of the March 16 decline by March 30, 2020, just two weeks later.
While Microsoft was losing $177 billion in market capitalization on March 16, 2020, Apple's market cap declined by $156 billion the same day. The world's most valuable company on that day, Apple saw its share price drop 13%, in line with the 13% plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the 12% loss for the S&P 500 Index. The prior business day, the company said it would close all its stores outside China for two weeks amid the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Microsoft would pass Apple as the world's most valuable company just a week later, holding that distinction for two months before Apple reclaimed it by May 27, 2020. The stock recovered all its losses from that day by April 14, 2020.
Five days after Apple suffered what was then the largest market capitalization drop in history at $182 billion, it incurred this $141 billion decline in value amid a continuing market pullback on Sept. 8, 2020, even as the company scheduled a media event to preview new products including the iPhone 12 a week later.
The stock recovered the entirety of this loss within five weeks, by Oct. 12, 2020. At the end of October, Apple would once again lose the market cap crown to Microsoft following a disappointing earnings report, only to reclaim it three weeks later.
Tesla Inc. (TSLA) shares plunged 12% on Nov. 9, 2021, costing investors in the maker of electric autos $140 billion in market value. The stock had dropped nearly 5% the prior day after Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk posted a Twitter poll asking followers whether he should sell 10% of his stake in the company.
Musk proceeded to sell shares worth $16.4 billion over the remainder of 2021. On Feb. 7, 2022, Tesla disclosed it received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Nov. 16, 10 days after the tweet. The subpoena was related to a 2018 settlement with the SEC requiring Musk's tweets of material information about Tesla to be approved ahead of publication by the company's lawyers.
Amazon.com Inc (AMZN) shares slumped nearly 8% on July 30, 2021, in response to a disappointing earnings report, erasing $138 billion in market capitalization. While the e-commerce and data centers giant posted big year-over-year gains in revenue and net income for the second quarter of fiscal 2021, it fell short of Wall Street analysts' estimates on both measures.
8. Meta Platforms
Meta's prior record for a single-day loss of market value was set on July 26, 2018, when it was still called Facebook, and saw its market capitalization cut by $119 billion.
Shares plummeted from $217.50 a share at the close on Jul. 25, 2018, to $176.26 by the end of the next day. The plunge came after the company released disappointing earnings for the second quarter of 2018.
The companies large enough to suffer such massive one-day declines also often have the long-term advantages required for the share price to recover.
Apple's share price plummeted 10% on March 12, 2020, wiping $119 billion from the company's market capitalization amid the market slump sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. The stock recouped the entirety of that loss the next day.
Apple's stock fell a modest 4% on Dec. 16, 2021, but the company's market-leading capitalization of $2.94 trillion as of the prior market close declined by $116 billion as a result, as Apple informed staff it was postponing the return to its U.S. offices previously planned for Feb. 2022. The stock fully recouped the loss by Dec. 27, 2021.
What Is Market Cap?
Market cap is a company's market capitalization, which is calculated by multiplying its share price by its total shares outstanding.
Which Company Has the Largest Market Cap?
As of April 13, 2023, Apple has the largest market cap of any company at $2.53 trillion. Microsoft has the second-largest, followed by Saudi Aramco, Alphabet (Google), and Amazon, to round out the top five.
What Is the Biggest One-Day Drop in the U.S. Stock Market?
The worst drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was on Oct. 19, 1987, when the index fell by 22.61%.
The Bottom Line
The companies on this list are some of the largest and most successful companies in history. While they have witnessed severe drops in their stock price over time, many have recovered from those falls. Regardless, these companies are the largest players in business and continue to hold significant sway, power, and influence, no matter where their share prices have moved.