The year 2017 has been a phenomenal one for the U.S. stock markets. Through mid-November, the S&P 500 Index was up more than 340 points, or about 15 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average's gain was even more impressive at 3,646 points, or about 18 percent. Well-known, actively traded stocks typically lead the market upwards, and this list of 10 of the best stocks of 2017 can attest to that. All are popular stocks to buy on Wall Street as well as Main Street, and all have shown impressive point gains in 2017. Take a look at this stock list to see some big winners and see which might continue to be market giants in the future.
Price on Nov. 14: $1,041.64
Point increase in 2017: 249.19
Alphabet, the company formerly known as Google, has proven to be one of the best stocks to buy in 2017. With a price above $1,000 per share, any significant move translates into a high number of points. The company has made a lot of money for investors, as its 249-point stock gain translates into a profit of more than 31 percent. Continued growth in ad clicks helped propel Alphabet to better-than-expected earnings in 2017's third quarter, helping fuel the stock run.
Price on Nov. 14: $261.76
Point increase in 2017: 106.08
The financial engines have been firing on all cylinders for Boeing in 2017. The aerospace giant — already one of the most valuable public companies in the nation — saw its stock price soar to record highs, which helped pull the broader market up with it. Late in the year Boeing announced plans to ramp up production of its carbon-composite Dreamliner 787 aircraft in 2018. It also said profit margins would improve. The company anticipates a major wide-body jet replacement cycle in the next decade, shoring up earnings for years to come. Boeing's 106-point stock pop through mid-November equals a gain of over 68 percent.
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Price on Nov. 14: $178.07
Point increase in 2017: 63.02
Facebook has been one of the most-talked about companies in the world, even spawning a movie about its origins and development. With more than 2.07 billion active users as of the 2017 third quarter, Facebook is nothing short of a global juggernaut. Having that many users makes Facebook ads valuable because companies can reach billions of potential customers with a single posting. Facebook reported its most profitable quarter ever during the third quarter, helping sustain the stock's big rally. However, CEO Mark Zuckerberg did warn that growth might slow in 2018 as the company spends more on security.
Price on Nov. 14: $171.34
Point increase in 2017: 55.52
While Apple the company might not be the inspiration for the famous phrase, "you're the apple of my eye," it's clearly a darling when it comes to both customers and investors. For the fifth year in a row, Apple was named the world's most valuable brand in the 2017 Interbrands Best Global Brands Ranking. The stock has had a big year as well, climbing nearly 48 percent as of Nov. 14. Not many companies have customers lining up to buy their products, but this seems to happen with every new iPhone release, including the iPhone X. Apple might soon cross the threshold of $1 trillion in market value; it stands just below $900 billion today.
Price on Nov. 14: $211.71
Point increase in 2017: 51.67
UnitedHealth was one of the biggest movers on the list, with its 51.67-point rise generating a greater than 32 percent profit for stockholders. UnitedHealth, with operations in more than 125 countries, ranks No. 6 on the Fortune 500 list. The company has had some growing pains under the Affordable Care Act, and its withdrawal from that program could make future earnings harder to estimate. However, in the third quarter of 2017, UnitedHealth beat earnings expectations, adding to the year's stock gains.
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Price on Nov. 14: $229.33
Point increase in 2017: 50.76
3M might not be a household name, but many of its products are, including Scotch tape and Post-It notes. As the economy has improved in 2017, so have many industrial companies like 3M, whose stock jumped 5.9 percent in just one day after reporting surprisingly strong earnings results during the third quarter. With a 50-plus point move through November, 3M has returned more than 28 percent to investors. Analyst earnings estimates for 2018 have been trending up, indicating 3M's rally may continue.
Price on Nov. 14: $149.95
Point increase in 2017: 46.7
The rise in Mastercard stock in 2017 can be attributed to a familiar source: better-than-expected earnings. In late October, the company cruised past analysts' forecasts for both earnings and revenue, sending the stock up another 1.8 percent in a year that has seen an almost 50-point stock rise. Mastercard had previously reported strong numbers in the first two quarters of the year as it benefited from rising payment volume, innovative cards that attracted new customers and a favorable foreign exchange environment.
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Price on Nov. 14: $168.11
Point increase in 2017: 46.39
The golden arches were back in favor in 2017, with McDonald's share price popping 38 percent through mid-November. Strong earnings reports were behind much of the stock movement, as the company reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings. Same-store sales jumped 4.1 percent even with the impact of the 2017 hurricane season. Analysts attributed at least part of the rise to the company's value promotion, which offered nationwide $1 sodas of any size, and the McPick 2 Deal, which gave customers the option to buy two menu items for $5.
Home Depot (HD)
Price on Nov. 14: $168.06
Point increase in 2017: 33.98
When the economy ticks up, Home Depot tends to benefit as a better economy translates to higher sales of home improvement products. A stormy hurricane season also helped Home Depot in 2017, as higher demand for rebuilding materials and emergency supplies such as generators, flashlights and batteries helped profit jump by 10 percent in the third quarter, topping analysts' estimates. Same-store sales rose 7.9 percent, well above expectations of 5.9 percent. This combination of factors has helped Home Depot shares return more than 25 percent to investors as of November.
Price on Nov. 14: $111.98
Point increase in 2017: 33.96
While's Visa's nearly 34-point stock pop only ranks 10th on this list, it still equates to a more than 43 percent profit gain for investors, among the highest of the companies here. Visa also benefited from the same consumer and financial trends that helped prop up competitor and fellow list member Mastercard. Visa also got a boost from its purchase of Visa Europe. In October, Visa said fiscal 4Q 2017 earnings increased 11 percent from the prior year. The company has beaten earnings estimates for two years straight.
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