Investing is way, way easier when done in hindsight. Aside from enormous sums of money, what do you really get from trying to pick stocks before they make big gains when it’s so much easier to know how successful a stock will be after it already is a hit?
Still, looking at past performance can be a key part of building a successful strategy for the future. And with that in mind, here’s a look at the top-performing stocks from the S&P 500 for this year. Who knows? Perhaps digging into the top stocks of 2018 will help you pick the right ones for 2019.
14. Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $367.89
Closing price on Nov. 8: $540.02
Percent gain: 46.79 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $1,467.90
Intuitive Surgical makes the da Vinci Surgical System, a robotic surgery system that a surgeon can control from a console. It allows surgeons to perform complex, minimally invasive surgeries with accuracy and precision. This expensive stock has been worth the investment: It has gained over 45 percent thus far in 2018.
13. NetApp, Inc. (NTAP)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $55.50
Closing price on Nov. 8: $82.84
Percent gain: 49.26 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $1,492.60
NetApp is a cloud computing company that has spent most of 2018 delivering a string of better-than-expected earnings reports. Its most recent two quarterly reports beat analyst expectations by an average of almost 17 percent.
12. Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $1,172
Closing price on Nov. 8: $1,754.91
Percent gain: 49.74 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $1,497.40
Apparently, there were plenty of people who looked at Amazon’s $1,000-plus share price at the start of the year and thought to themselves, “Wow, what a bargain!” At least, enough people that the shares have shot up almost 50 percent since that point. And that’s after counting the nearly 15 percent drop the company experienced after hitting a 52-week high of over $2,000 a share in early September.
11. Illumina, Inc. (ILMN)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $224.78
Closing price on Nov. 8: $339.55
Percent gain: 51.06 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $1,510.60
Genetics company Illumina provides gene-sequencing solutions and it increased its overall value by more than a half in 2018. The company reported its highest sales ever for its genomic-sequencing systems in late October, and then it bought its biggest competitor — Pacific Biosciences — in early November.
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10. Boston Scientific Corporation (BSX)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $24.94
Closing price on Nov. 8: $38.44
Percent gain: 54.13 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $1,541.30
Medical device maker Boston Scientific is putting together a healthy year: The stock added 54.13 percent to its market value in just 10 months. The company — which specializes in cardiology products — might have left investors needing to adjust their pacemakers after reading the ticker tape as it built its share price month after month through a string of solid earnings reports.
9. Under Armour, Inc. (UA)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $13.45
Closing price on Nov. 8: $20.74
Percent gain: 54.2 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $1,542
The huge gains in Under Armor stock have likely been immensely satisfying to anyone who bought the stock at the beginning of 2018. But longtime stockholders might be less enthused — following a sharp drop in 2016, shares plummeted even further in 2017 and have yet to fully recover.
8. HCA Healthcare (HCA)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $88
Closing price on Nov. 8: $141.63
Percent gain: 60.94 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $1,609.40
HCA Healthcare operates acute care hospitals and surgical services, providing healthcare services for a wide variety of patients at its 179 hospitals and 120 freestanding surgical centers. And, based on its earnings and stock performance in 2018, it’s been doing a bang-up job at it, adding over 60 percent to its market value since the start of the year as admissions continue to rise.
7. Netflix, Inc. (NFLX)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $196.10
Closing price on Nov. 8: $317.92
Percent gain: 62.12 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $1,621.20
There was nothing “chill” about what stock in Netflix did in 2018. A 60-plus percent gain in just 10 months has shares well over $300 apiece as the company continues to stream money into the accounts of its shareholders.
6. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $290.90
Closing price on Nov. 8: $478.30
Percent gain: 64.42 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $1,644.20
Tortillas might be unleavened, but one thing that did rise this past year was stock in the fast-casual food chain. Of course, the company’s big 2018 has a lot to do with its poor performance in preceding years. The company reached highs of nearly $750 a share in late 2015 before the stock was rocked by E. coli scandals.
5. Advance Auto Parts, Inc. (AAP)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $100.90
Closing price on Nov. 8: $172.45
Percent gain: 70.91 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $1,709.10
“Advance” is just what this stock has done all year, growing steadily on the back of strong earnings results and growing sales. Had you invested $1,000 at the start of the year, you would currently be sitting on over $1,700 worth of stock.
4. Fortinet, Inc. (FTNT)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $43.76
Closing price on Nov. 8: $77.91
Percent gain: 78.04 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $1,780.40
If you read this and thought, “Oh, yes, that’s really popular with the kids these days,” you’re thinking of the video game “Fortnite.” Different thing. Though, maybe more young people should be taking an interest in integrated cybersecurity solutions, if only for the ballooning stock values. The company’s most recent earnings report might offer a clue as to why: a double-digit year-over-year increase in revenue and improving margins.
3. TripAdvisor, Inc. (TRIP)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $34.61
Closing price on Nov. 8: $66.93
Percent gain: 93.38 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $1,933.80
Ironically, the one trip this company should have advised you to take in 2018 was with this stock as it rocketed up the charts. Of course, it remains inadvisable for customers to make stock picks based on a travel adviser’s advice, but investing in this company would have been a smart move at the start of the year: You would have almost doubled every dollar you invested by early November.
2. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $10.42
Closing price on Nov. 8: $21.20
Percent gain: 103.45 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $2,034.50
At the start of the year, you wouldn’t have needed to break a $20 bill to buy a share of semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices. That is no longer the case, as AMD stock has more than doubled in value since then. The stock actually peaked at over $30 a share in September only to slump through October. However, the stock rallied following the announcement that its chips were being used by Amazon’s cloud computing division.
1. ABIOMED, Inc. (ABMD)
Opening price on Jan. 2: $188.13
Closing price on Nov. 8: $413.85
Percent gain: 119.98 percent
What $1,000 invested would be worth now: $2,199.80
This company’s name sounds like an answer to the question, “Which type of med?” And it answered emphatically in 2018, leading the S&P 500 year-to-date with a gain of almost 120 percent. Investors at the start of the year could have more than doubled their money in 10 months. The company — which makes heart pumps — delivered another earnings beat in early November that reversed a recent downtrend.
Click through to learn about the best stocks you can buy for $1.
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Photos are for illustrative purposes only. As a result, some of the photos might not reflect the companies listed in this article.
About the Author
Joel Anderson is a business and finance writer with over a decade of experience writing about the wide world of finance. Based in Los Angeles, he specializes in writing about the financial markets, stocks, macroeconomic concepts and focuses on helping make complex financial concepts digestible for the retail investor.