Investing in stocks is tricky, and there is no magic bullet to ensure success. However, research economists have found momentum to be a highly useful factor in predicting future stock value. A physics term that refers to the impetus gained by an object in motion, momentum can also be applied to the stock market, and economists believe that stocks that have performed well in the recent past will, on average, continue to do so in the near future.
Of course, there are no guarantees in the market, and stocks with solid price performance might still do poorly in the coming months. However, like the proverbial “hot hand” in athletics, recent success can indicate future operational excellence. In light of this trend, prospective investors might want to take a look at previous results before making buying decisions. Here are 13 stocks that have shown very strong price momentum since the start of the year, with each company up 100 percent or more since Dec. 31, 2014.
1. Amazon.com Inc (AMZN)
Current Price: $655.50*
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $311.55
Year to Date Percentage Change: 110.40 percent
Operating Cash Flow: $9.82 billion
E-commerce giant Amazon.com has had a monster run this year, seeing its stock rise more than 100 percent. For such a large company, that level of stock price increase is truly impressive. According to the experts, investors are likely reacting to the consumer shift from in-store to online shopping, as well as enhanced visibility into some of Amazon’s lesser-known operations like its cloud services platform. For best results, individuals should look for opportunities to invest in Amazon when the stock moves lower, as this drop could represent a good entry point.
2. Neurocrine Biosciences (NBIX)
Current Price: $52.52
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $22.27
Year to Date Percentage Change: 135.83 percent
Operating Cash Flow: -$38.10 million
NBIX shares have seen a major price shift this year, as the company’s clinical partner — drug giant AbbVie (ABBV) — announced positive data from the first of two phase III trials for the firm’s Elagolix drug. If the second stage of the trial goes as well as the first, experts predict that ABBV will file regulatory paperwork with the aim of getting the drug approved by late 2016. NBIX shareholders can anticipate continued increases in stock prices, as the odds of drug approval increase in the coming months. As a cautionary note, investors in small stocks like NBIX should be sure to invest only when there is sufficient volume to handle a buy order.
3. ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc (ZIOP)
Current Price: $13.98
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $5.07
Year to Date Percentage Change: 175.74 percent
Operating Cash Flow: $13.92 million
Biopharma company ZIOPHARM has soared over the course of this year, thanks in part to good news relating to licensing deals for the development of the firm’s next generation of CAR-T cancer drugs. The hope is that the licensing deal ZIOP put together with the MD Anderson Cancer Center will allow the firm to expand its drug pipeline opportunities dramatically going forward. Like NBIX, ZIOP is also a stock for which investors should be aware of the volume and size of the order, as well as any price impact the order might have, before handing over their hard-earned cash.
4. Dyax Corp (DYAX)
Current Price: $34.54
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $14.18
Year to Date Percentage Change: 143.58 percent
Operating Cash Flow: -$8.6 million
Biopharma company Dyax Corp has been another big winner this year, due in part to promising results from one of its drug trials. While this development helped move the stock somewhat higher, the company remained stuck in neutral until early November, when drug giant Shire agreed to buy DYAX for a whopping $5.9 billion, or $37.30 per share. In classic merger arbitrage form, DYAX stock remains slightly below the offer price, creating a great opportunity for patient arbitrage investors.
5. Isle of Capri Casinos Inc (ISLE)
Current Price: $20.25
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $8.50
Year to Date Percentage Change: 138.24 percent
Operating Cash Flow: $135.37 million
Giant Wynn Resorts and other top casinos have suffered a tough couple years, however Isle of Capri bucked this trend in recent months. The company’s 15 domestic casinos, spread out across the U.S. from Colorado to Florida, have seen strong results, due in part to an improving economy. Additionally, ISLE properties have taken advantage of the trend toward more local gambling. Still, ISLE remains a volatile stock, and prospective buyers should wait for one of the many pullbacks before investing.
Related: How to Buy Stocks Online
6. LendingTree Inc (TREE)
Current Price: $128.98
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $48.00
Year to Date Percentage Change: 168.71 percent
Operating Cash Flow: $31.99 million
Online lender exchange platform LendingTree has enjoyed one of the best stock moves of any company this year. The firm has seen its stock rise consistently throughout the year, thanks to strong earnings and revenue growth as well as optimism from analysts about the company’s potential moving forward. For best results, potential TREE investors should look for opportunities to invest on days when the broader market is down.
7. Eagle Pharmaceuticals, Inc (EGRX)
Current Price: $76.25
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $14.22
Year to Date Percentage Change: 436.22 percent
Operating Cash Flow: -$11.05 million
Specialty pharmaceutical company EGRX recently announced a series of positive developments for its stage drugs and, in a market wherein traders are loving anything biotech related, the stock price has soared faster than that of any other firm on the list. Despite the more than 400 percent rise in the company’s stock price to date, some analysts are forecasting even more gains, with RBC Capital Markets putting a $97 target price on the company in June.
8. ABIOMED, Inc (ABMD)
Current Price: $79.65
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $38.51
Year to Date Percentage Change: 106.83 percent
Operating Cash Flow: $62.24 million
Medical device maker ABIOMED manufacturers mechanical hearts, and the stock has certainly shown heart this past year. In particular, the firm has benefited from the FDA’s approval of its Impella 2.5 System, a miniature blood-pumping device that helps patients maintain stable heart function and circulation during various medical procedures. The company’s products appear to be gaining serious traction in the marketplace, if strong earnings reports are any indicator.
9. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (COKE)
Current Price: $182.76
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $88.99
Year to Date Percentage Change: 105.37 percent
Operating Cash Flow: $91.96 million
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated is an independent bottler in the U.S. that produces, markets and distributes beverages on behalf of its giant affiliate, Coca-Cola Company. While much smaller than its partner, COKE still clocks in with a respectable market cap of just under $2 billion. Further, the stock has been climbing all year, as the firm outperformed on earnings and took advantage of various opportunities to expand its business, such as buying more manufacturing facilities from KO (The Coca-Cola Company). Potential investors in COKE should pay attention to KO’s stock price and movements if they hope to identify the hottest opportunities to buy.
10. Wayfair (W)
Current Price: $45.84
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $19.69
Year to Date Percentage Change: 132.81 percent
Operating Cash Flow: $37.15 million
Upscale online retailer Wayfair has made a big splash in the markets this year. After going public in mid-2014 and seeing its stock fall through the end of the year, the company has come back in a big way, thanks in part to solid management and excellent earnings. Investors seem to like the secular trends putting wind in the company’s sails and have been pushing stock price higher for most of the year.
11. Netflix Inc (NFLX)
Current Price: $109.86
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $49.03
Year to Date Percentage Change: 124.07 percent
Operating Cash Flow: -$543.16 million
Netflix has consistently made fools of its doubters, releasing strong subscriber numbers and building a platform with considerable clout and pricing power. This year, the company took its place alongside the giants of the media industry, with its market cap nearing $50 billion. Along with peers like Hulu and Amazon Prime Streaming Video Services, Netflix is dominating its category, with the stock up more than 100 percent year to date in 2015. While current NFLX shareholders are likely pleased, investors looking to get in on the action might benefit from waiting until the period before earnings, when the stock is often weaker due to future uncertainty.
12. Globant S.A. (GLOB)
Current Price: $15.00
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $34.20
Year to Date Percentage Change: 128 percent
Operating Cash Flow: $14.30 million
Argentine software developer Globant has enjoyed a great year for its stock, thanks in part to five consecutive quarters of top and bottom line beats. The company completed its IPO last July and, after pricing the stock conservatively, has mostly flown under the radar. However, investors who paid attention have done well, with shares up more than 100 percent in the last 11 months. Because GLOB is a foreign stock, prospective investors should pay particular attention to developments in the foreign exchange markets to safeguard their portfolios.
13. Anacor Pharmaceuticals, Inc (ANAC)
Current Price: $109.27
Price on Dec. 31, 2014: $31.22
Year to Date Percentage Change: 250 percent
Operating Cash Flow: -$39.32 million
Biopharmaceutical company Anacor has had a dramatic 2015 thus far, with the stock rising throughout the first half of the year. In July, the stock enjoyed a 40 percent spike following the company’s announcement of positive results in two, late-stage studies related to its primary drug. While investors have cooled on the firm’s valuation in recent months, the stock remains up 250 percent for the year. As is the case with other small caps, investors in ANAC should ensure that the stock has sufficient volume on any given day before placing larger orders.
All 13 of the above companies have seen great increases in their stock prices over the last year. However, past success is no guarantee of future performance, and prospective investors would be wise to do their due diligence before purchasing. For best results, contact a trusted brokerage firm for the latest research and tips. With a little luck, one of the stocks listed above might just be your key to riches.
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Disclaimer: The above stock prices were recorded on Nov. 16, 2015. Operating cash flow values were taken from Etrade and Yahoo Finance (KAY statistics section). Year-to-date changes in stock prices are the result of the writer’s own calculation, using current stock prices minus the December 31 stock prices, divided by current prices.