Stock Market Today: Airbnb Takes Off in Debut

Stocks closed mostly lower on Thursday, as talks for another round of economic stimulus sputtered and jobless claims spiked.

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  • Expected IPO timeline: December 2020
  • Estimated IPO valuation: $30 billion-plus

Airbnb is one of the few remaining upcoming IPOs of 2020, and it’s likely to be one of the largest. The offering is expected to go live in December, and the home-renting firm is expecting to fetch a valuation of more than $30 billion.

That’s a sharp turnaround from earlier in the year, when the prospects for an Airbnb IPO had all but died. COVID-19 hit the business hard, and Airbnb had to lay off employees and raise $1 billion to shore up its finances.

But since then, Airbnb has staged a remarkable comeback. Part of that is because the company swiftly enacted policies to bolster safety for its customers. There also has been a surge in interest for local vacation stays, and Airbnb capitalized by changing its algorithms to optimize for this. Also, some people view Airbnb rentals as safer (from a COVID perspective) than staying in a hotel with dozens or hundreds of other guests.

By July, Airbnb site activity returned to pre-pandemic levels.

That’s not to say an Airbnb IPO is without risks. After all, it appears the U.S. is enduring a “second wave” of COVID-19, which could mean a tough winter season for travel.

But management’s willingness and ability to make changes is a good sign that the company will find ways to deal with challenges. A strong brand and dominant leadership position also could make Airbnb one of the best IPOs of this year or next.

“When it comes to supply in the accommodation business or for that matter marketplaces that list accommodations, Airbnb’s business model has proven to be vastly superior to incumbent hotel chains,” says Julian Svirsky, CEO of real estate blockchain platform Atlant and home rentals platform Karta. “To put things in perspective, they have over 1.6x more listings than Marriott, Hilton, Intercontinental, Wyndham and Hyatt combined, having been in the business substantially less.”

Weekly applications for first-time unemployment rose 137,000 to a seasonally adjusted 853,000. Economists were looking for claims of just 725,000. The surge in applications suggests that the recovery in the labor market has stumbled amid renewed COVID-19 restrictions.

“Initial and continuing jobless claims posted larger-than-expected increases, with initial claims surging to their highest level in two months,” said Michael Gapen of Barclays Research. “Their rise broadly coincides with increased restrictions put in place by many states to offset rising COVID-19 cases.”

Happily, it wasn’t all bad news on the pandemic front. Although Democrats and Republicans remain at loggerheads over additional stimulus, investors were able to take heart in the Food and Drug Administration’s meeting to weigh the risks of the experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by BioNTech (BNTX, +5.5%) and Pfizer (PFE, -0.3%).

By session’s end, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% to 29,999, while the broader S&P 500 slipped 0.1% to 3,668. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite perked up with a 0.5% gain to close at 12,405. Other action in the market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 rose 1.1% to 1,922.
  • U.S. crude oil futures gained 2.6% to finish at $46.91 per barrel.
  • Gold futures settled at $1,835.50 per ounce, a 0.9% improvement.

© Provided by Kiplinger

Airbnb Demand: A Sign of 2021 Recovery Hopes?

Thursday’s biggest star, however, was Airbnb (ABNB +113%), which soared in its stock market debut. The home-sharing network raised $3.5 billion in its initial public offering, making it the year’s third-largest IPO.

When a stock goes public, it’s often taken as a sign of confidence.

Given that 2021 already has no shortage of IPOs, it’s fair to say that confidence is in good supply on Wall Street. Consider what Airbnb tells us. The travel sector has been trashed by the pandemic, but investors are clearly bullish on a rebound in hospitality, travel and leisure next year. 

Recovery will be the market’s main theme in 2021, and there are a host of ways to play it. With that in mind, have a look at the 21 Best Stocks to Buy for 2021, a list that offers exposure to everything from financials to floor scrubbers.

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