After a tumultuous 2020, the year 2021 has been more or less straight up for the market as a whole. Barring a few selloffs throughout the year, none of which reached the double-digit percentage level, the S&P 500 has had smooth sailing.
The broad market index itself was up about 25% year-to-date as November drew to a close, but many well-known names were up far more. Here are some of the best-performing stocks among the headline-making companies of 2021.
AMC Entertainment (AMC)
- Stock price as of Jan. 1: $2.12
- Stock price as of Nov. 26: $37.63
- Percentage gain: 1,675%
AMC Entertainment is one of the poster children for the “meme stock” movement, as it’s been heavily touted in 2021 by investors on public message boards. As shown by AMC’s astronomical YTD return, meme stocks can absolutely skyrocket when they are heavily shorted by institutions and targeted by investors looking for a short squeeze to make a quick buck.
- Stock price as of Jan. 1: $18.84
- Stock price as of Nov. 26: $199.72
- Percentage gain: 960.1%
GameStop is another “meme stock” darling of 2021, up nearly 1,000% on the back of a huge short position and aggressive touting by online forums. As an example of how dangerous investing in meme stocks can be, GameStop has actually tumbled precipitously from its early-year high of $483 per share.
- Stock price as of Jan. 1: $104.47
- Stock price as of Nov. 26: $329.63
- Percentage gain: 215.53%
With its clever symbol MRNA, Moderna has been all over the news thanks to the success of its COVID-19 vaccine. The stock has had quite a volatile 2021, bouncing around in response to any news about the spread or containment of the coronavirus. Moderna remains well below its all-time high of $497.49 set in August.
Devon Energy (DVN)
- Stock price as of Jan. 1: $15.17
- Stock price as of Nov. 26: $42.70
- Percentage gain: 181.48%
Devon Energy is a bounce-back story, plain and simple. The stock had been in a significant downward trend since 2008 when it bottomed in the March 2020 coronavirus-triggered market selloff. Since that March 2020 bottom, the stock is up sixfold. The main reasons for the comeback are surging oil prices and the cost-cutting Devon Energy management enacted when the company was in survival mode.
- Stock price as of Jan. 1: $11.17
- Stock price as of Nov. 26: $30.48
- Percentage gain: 172.87%
Macy’s is an example of how much upside is potentially available in a company that’s all but written off for dead. Talk of bankruptcy surrounded Macy’s in the midst of the coronavirus in 2020, and the stock traded below $10 per share in November of that year. But the stock has taken off like a rocket in 2021 thanks to surprisingly increasing sales, a growing online footprint and a clearer direction out of company management.
Bath & Body Works (BBWI)
- Stock price as of Jan. 1: $29.86
- Stock price as of Nov. 26: $74.61
- Percentage gain: 149.87%
Bath & Body Works is one of the two remnants of the former L Brands, the other banner being Victoria’s Secret. The company has logged impressive gains in profitability in 2021 after suffering greatly in the “retail apocalypse” of 2020. Coupled with an aggressive share repurchase program and new branding, the stock has been a huge hit in 2021.
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- Stock price as of Jan. 1: $130.45
- Stock price as of Nov. 26: $315.03
- Percentage gain: 141.49%
Nvidia has long been a Wall Street darling, and 2021 was no different. The chip maker’s graphics processing unit, or GPU, is the powerhouse behind various gaming platforms and a wide range of artificial intelligence applications, from computers to self-driving cars. As demand continues to surge in all of these areas, Nvidia continues to benefit.
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Marathon Oil (MRO)
- Stock price as of Jan. 1: $6.57
- Stock price as of Nov. 26: $15.70
- Percentage gain: 138.96%
Marathon Oil is enjoying the same type of market conditions that have benefited its competitor on this list, Devon Energy. In March 2020, Marathon Oil traded down to $3.29 per share and looked like its survival was at stake, thanks to the coronavirus eliminating nearly all demand for oil. Marathon’s management slashed the company’s budget, eliminated its dividend and share repurchase programs and positioned the company for a future recovery, which has paid off along with the increase in oil prices in 2021.
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Ford Motor Company (F)
- Stock price as of Jan. 1: $8.75
- Stock price as of Nov. 26: $19.75
- Percentage gain: 125.71%
The Ford Motor Company sprung back to life in 2020 after suffering years of poor stock performance, and it has continued to surge in 2021. Part of the excitement behind Ford, besides its low price and valuation, has been its aggressive foray into electric vehicles.
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- Stock price as of Jan. 1: $148.53
- Stock price as of Nov. 26: $327.39
- Percentage gain: 120.42%
Fortinet may not be all that familiar to the casual observer, but it’s a huge favorite among the investment institutions of Wall Street. The cybersecurity firm’s earnings over the past three years have been off the chart, up nearly 348%, and its stock has followed that earnings surge higher.
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