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The COVID-19 Timeline: What was known or knowable and what did the market say?


COVID-19 timeline, S&P 500 index % changes, spread over US treasury note, from December 2019 to March 2021 - graph

Sources: S&P Capital IQ, Yahoo Finance, Duff & Phelps, James R. Hitchner’s Valuation Products and Services and CMAJ News.


Richter’s COVID-19 timeline plots local and world events together with a depiction of the volatility of the S&P 500 stock index as well as the spread of publicly traded BBB corporate bonds over US treasury notes. The rebound of the stock and credit markets following the low in March 2020 was largely bolstered by remarkable government stimulus, particularly in Canada and the US. The level of funding provided and the impact on the economic environment could not have been predicted at the outset of the pandemic. It is difficult to predict the level of government stimulus that will persist and its impact on corporations, industries and the macro economic climate. As of March 2021, we continue to witness a steady rise in the S&P 500 stock index and slight decline in credit spreads. This occurs contemporaneously with noteworthy events – such as the third wave of the virus, the storming of the US Capitol, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across North America and the inauguration of Joe Biden as President.

History has shown that private markets are not as volatile as public ones, and we believe this remains true during the pandemic. Public market data during COVID, as it applies to private company valuation, must therefore be used with greater caution and professional skepticism.

Whether for a notional or transaction-oriented valuation, companies and valuators should take the time to prepare and assess the company’s projections to understand how the company is most likely to weather the pandemic. While market data may be directionally helpful, deep forward-looking company-specific analysis is key to arriving at a reasonable and thoughtful conclusion.


This timeline was compiled by Richter LLP’s Business Valuation and Dispute Advisory Group. A similar version was published in the CBV Institute’s Journal of Business Valuation (November 2020 edition), Section 05, Page 111, “Repricing Risk in the Times of COVID-19”

Link: https://cbvinstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/CBV-Institute_Journal2020_Final.pdf

Contact Person: Alana Geller, CPA, CA, CBV, CFF

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