Below we show the 40 best performers in the S&P 500 for the year of 2015 so far. With the only a few trading days left in the year, the winners are for the most part decided, and the list is a diverse one. Consumer-oriented tech tops the list; Netflix, Amazon, Activision, and Nvidia are all keyed to either online shopping or some kind of consumer video content. But don’t sleep on cable; CVC returned over 50%. Solar stocks have gotten hit by all manner of factors, but First Solar (FSLR) still managed to get into the top 11, while Valero (VLO) may be surprising next down the list given its sector (Energy). But strong product demand and favorable margin trends for most of the year helped the refiner outperform.
Coffee, meat and alcohol (SBUX, HRL, STZ) also did well, while Vulcan’s (VMC) exposure to infrastructure spend and housing’s recovery kept it in good company. For all the talk of FANG, we have to get pretty far down this list of admittedly impressive stocks to include all of those stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google). Two beverage companies (MNST and DPS) are on the list, as is autos play ORLY, which road new highs in auto sales to its perch. Health Care is surprisingly under-represented on the list, with insurer CI the best health name, followed by REGN, the only biotech-related name. Finally, three of the last four stocks on the list are classic Americana: military (NOC), burgers (MCD), and groceries (KR).
The 40 worst performers are a bit less interesting in terms of diversity. There’s a litany of Energy and Materials names, with those two sectors comprising more than half the list and the top four worst performers in the major index for the year. Consumer Discretionary is also well-represented with the Apple Watch-besegied wach maker Fossil, retailers (SPLS, GPS, M), fashion houses (KORS, RL), and media (VIAB) all getting hit. While the sector had lots of names on our best-performers list as well, it’s clear that consumers were extremely fickle this year in terms of who got their favor. One interesting dynamic on this list is a very low number of Industrial names; despite weak industrial economy output, the crash in Energy, and the strong dollar, the only Industrial names in the S&P 500 that make our list of the 40 worst performers were KSU (a railroad), R (logistics), and CMI (an engine maker). Finally, chip and memory makers like MU, WDC, STX, and software vendor TDC all had poor years despite the large number of tech winners.