Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell suffered the greatest loss of all companies analysed in 2020 when looking at nominal decreases in revenue. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the global economy, causing it to contract by .4.% in 2020. Lockdown measures and border closures have had a dramatic effect on the business landscape, most notably in the international travel, leisure and construction sectors. Investment Monitor looks at the companies that have suffered the largest falls in revenue.

Using the Monitor Network’s multinational companies database, we have ranked the companies that saw the steepest declines in revenue between 2019 and 2020. Companies that recorded a 2019 revenue of $500m or more were taken into consideration, and our analysis is focused on annual reports. Of the top 20 hardest-hit companies, half are in the air transport industry, seven are in leisure and arts, two are in hotel construction and one is in the travel technology sector.

In addition, three-quarters of the companies in the top 20 are headquartered in the US. Overall, the top 20 loss-leading companies lost a total of $168bn in revenue between 2019 and 2020.

1. Cedar Fair

  • Ohio-based Cedar Fair, which owns and operates amusement parks, water parks and hotels across the US and Canada, recorded the sharpest drop in revenue of all companies analysed in 2020.
  • Its revenues plunged by 87.7% between 2019 and 2020, going from $1.5bn to $182m
  • Sales fell dramatically across all Cedar Fair’s business segments including admissions (-91%), food, merchandise and games (-84%), and accommodation (-82%).
  • In response to the spread of Covid-19, the company suspended operations at its parks in mid-March 2020 and resumed partial operations at ten of its 13 properties on a staggered basis beginning in mid-June.
  • The company had a total of 487 operating days in 2020, compared with 2,224 in 2019.

2. Sunstone Hotel Investors

  • California-based Sunstone Hotel Investors is a lodging real estate investment trust with interests in high-end hotels operated under well-known brands such as Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt.
  • Its revenue sank by 76.0% between 2019 and 2020, from $1.1bn to $268m.
  • As a result of Covid-related cancellations, travel restrictions and health concerns, the company suspended operations at 14 of its 17 hotels during the first half of 2020.
  • Room-related revenues dropped by 78% in 2020, while food and beverages sales dropped by 90%.

3. Cineplex

  • Toronto-based Cineplex, the owner and operator of more than 160 cinemas across Canada, saw its revenue plummet by 75.4% between 2019 and 2020 from C$1.7bn to C$418m.
  • Box office revenues fell by 81% in 2020 compared with 2019, primarily due to an 80.3% decrease in theatre attendance as a result of the pandemic.
  • Despite offering home delivery services, the company’s annual food service revenues decreased 78% compared with the previous year.
  • Cineplex did recuperate funds in some areas, with film costs falling 97% in 2020 due to limited releases. Major distributors are continuing to delay films initially scheduled for release in 2020 further into 2021 and beyond or are utilising online platforms.

4. Las Vegas Sands

  • Nevada-based casino and resort company Las Vegas Sands experienced a 73.7% revenue decrease between 2019 and 2020, from $13.7bn to $3.6bn.
  • Sales fell across all the company’s business segments, including casino-related revenues (-77%), rooms (-72%) and mall operations (-47%).
  • Out of all the company’s geographical segments, its Macau operations suffered the steepest decline in revenues, falling by 81% between 2019 and 2020.
  • The revenues associated with its Las Vegas operating properties and Singapore-based resort Marina Bay Sands both fell by 59%.

5. Carnival

  • Florida-based Carnival, the world’s largest travel leisure company, faced a revenue fall of 73.1% between 2019 and 2020, from $20.8bn to $5.6bn.
  • Passenger ticket revenues fell by 74% while on-board and other revenues dropped by 72%.
  • The company was forced to pause guest operations in mid-March 2020 and resumed limited operations in September of that year. As of April 2021, all sailings through to June are cancelled. Carnival has expressed concerns that the longer the pause in guest operations continues, the greater the impact on its financial position.
  • In addition, the company incurred extra Covid-related costs associated with repatriating guests and staff, improving health protocols, restructuring costs and defending lawsuits.
  • Carnival saw significant decreases in revenue across all geographical segments; most notably in Australia and Asia (-100%), followed by Europe (-74%) and North America (-73%).

6. Host Hotels & Resorts

  • Maryland-based Host Hotels & Resorts, a real estate investment trust, witnessed a 70.4% drop in revenue between 2019 and 2020 from $5.5bn to $1.6bn.
  • Room-related revenues fell by 72% and food and beverage revenues by 74%, predominantly due to the pandemic.
  • After a significant decline in revenues in the second quarter of 2020, revenues gradually improved through subsequent quarters, although they remained well below historical levels.
  • Domestic revenues fell by 70% while international operations dropped 77%.

7. Air Canada

  • Montreal-based Air Canada saw its revenues fall by 70.1% from C$19.1bn in 2019 to C$5.8bn in 2020.
  • The company attributed the result to the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 and government-imposed travel restrictions and quarantines.
  • Given these circumstances, the company announced plans to reduce staff by more than 20,000 in May 2020.
  • As a result of the pandemic and related travel restrictions, Air Canada reduced available seat miles capacity by 67% in 2020 compared with 2019 and plans to reduce first-quarter 2021 capacity by approximately 85% compared with the first quarter of 2019.
  • In 2020, net cash burn was C$4.7bn, or approximately C$13m per day, on average.

8. Wynn Resorts

  • Nevada-based Wynn Resorts, a developer and operator of high-end hotels and casinos, saw its revenues plunge by 68.3% between 2019 and 2020, from $6.6bn to $2.1bn.
  • Operating revenues within its Macau operations fell by 79% and in its Las Vegas operations by 54%. Its Encore Boston Harbor hotel saw a slight 0.6% decrease in revenues, though it should be noted the hotel only opened in June 2019.
  • These declines were triggered by the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, including travel restrictions, property closures and capacity limitations within its hotels.
  • Casino revenues decreased by 73% due to the pandemic, with the Macau casino closing for a 15-day period in February before reopening on a reduced basis. Its Las Vegas and Boston casinos closed from March 2020 until June and July, respectively.
  • Casino revenues accounted for 59% of operating revenues in 2020, compared with 70% for 2019.

9. Sabre

  • Texas-based travel technology company Sabre is the largest global distribution systems provider for air bookings in North America. It was originally founded by American Airlines in 1960 and spun off in 2000.
  • Its revenue fell by 66.4% between 2019 and 2020, from $4bn to $1.3bn.
  • Sales in travel solutions dropped by 68% and in hospitality solutions by 40%.
  • Revenue during 2020, particularly in the second quarter, was negatively impacted by increased cancellation activity.
  • Given the market conditions as a result of the pandemic, the company has implemented several cost-saving measures, including reducing its workforce through involuntary and voluntary severance and voluntary early retirement programmes, and the early abandonment of leased office space.

10. United Airlines

  • Illinois-based United Airlines witnessed a 64.5% drop in revenues from $43.3bn in 2019 to $15.4bn in 2020.
  • Passenger revenue, which represents more than three-quarters of the company’s sales, fell by 70%.
  • However, cargo revenue increased by 40% and the company was the first airline to safely transport the first delivery of Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine into the US.
  • United also launched the world’s first free transatlantic Covid testing pilot scheme for customers.

When looking at nominal decreases in revenue, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell suffered the greatest loss of all companies analysed in 2020. The company’s revenue decreased by $164bn between 2019 and 2020, which can largely be attributed to the dramatic fall in petroleum prices during the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, half of the top 20 companies that saw the greatest nominal decreases in revenue were in the oil and gas industry.

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With the vaccine roll-out now firmly under way in the home countries of almost all of these companies, hopes are high that 2021 will bring an uptick in revenues. However, with lockdowns still in place in many countries as of April, and surges happening in countries such as Brazil and France, it seems more likely that it will be 2022 at the earliest before these companies can start their recoveries in earnest.