Overall, 2015 was an uneventful year for stocks. After returning close to 10 percent in 2014, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) has lost 1.7 percent this year. The NASDAQ Composite Index (NASDAQ: ^IXIC) has gained 5.5 percent in 2015, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (^GSPC) has lost 0.8 percent.
Underneath the surface, a number of well-run companies with strong earnings and sales growth have managed to deliver impressive gains in an otherwise unimpressive 2015 stock market.
In an attempt to weed-out inferior quality names, this list of shares that have increased in value the most was restricted to those listed on the New York Stock Exchange or the NASDAQ with market capitalizations above $10 billion and that have increased in value by more than 25 percent in 2015, up to and including December 15.
The CNBC stock screener was used to compile this list.
Best-Performing NASDAQ Stocks Of 2015
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) +143.0 percent.
Ctrip.com International Ltd. (NASDAQ: CTRP) +112.5 percent
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) +112.2 percent
Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) +92.1 percent
NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA) +64.4 percent
Incyte Corporation (NASDAQ: INCY) +57.0 percent
Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) +53.8 percent
Expedia Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE) +52.6 percent
Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) +46.2 percent
ULTA Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc. (NASDAQ: ULTA) +45.0 percent
Hologic Inc. (NASDAQ: HOLX) +44.0 percent
Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR) +43.5 percent
Monster Beverage Corporation (NASDAQ: MNST) +40.8 percent
JD.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: JD) +36.5 percent
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) +35.6 percent
Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) +34.0 percent
Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV) +32.5 percent
Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) +31.5 percent
O’Reilly Automotive Inc. (NASDAQ: ORLY) +30.2 percent
Equinix, Inc. (NASDAQ: EQIX) +27.9 percent
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ: NCLH) +25.1 percent
Best-Performing NYSE Stocks Of 2015
Acuity Brands, Inc. (NYSE: AYI) +66.6 percent
Palo Alto Networks, Inc. (NYSE: PANW) +51.6 percent
Hormel Foods Corporation (HYSE: HRL) +49.7 percent
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NYSE: NTT) +49.3 percent
Extra Space Storage Inc. (NYSE: EXR) +48.3 percent
Vulcan Materials Company (NYSE: VMC) +45.4 percent
Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE: STZ) +41.9 percent
T-Mobile US, Inc. (NYSE: TMUS) +41.7 percent
Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE: BSX) +40.8 percent
Reynolds American Inc. (NYSE: RAI) +40.2 percent
Valero Energy Corporation (VLO) +38.0 percent
Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE: ALK) +37.4 percent
Tesoro Corporation (NYSE: TSO) +37.1 percent
Cigna Corp. (NYSE: CI) +36.7 percent
Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) +35.1 percent
Public Storage (NYSE: PSA) +35.1 percent
Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE: TSN) +34.6 percent
The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) +31.8 percent
Juniper Networks, Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) +30.7 percent
Salesforce.com, Inc. (CNYSE: CRM) +30.5 percent
Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. (NYSE: DPS) +30.2 percent
Markel Corp. (NYSE: MKL) +30.0 percent
Cameron International Corporation (NYSE: CAM) +29.3 percent
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) +27.4 percent
The Chubb Corporation (NYSE: CB) +27.2 percent
ServiceNow, Inc. (NYSE: NOW) +26.2 percent
Molson Coors Brewing Company (NYSE: TAP) +25.8 percent
The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE: HD) +25.1 percent
One thing that each of these companies has that has caused investors to bid up share prices is growth, as well as expectations of more growth in the future.
Wall Street analysts are expecting Facebook, whose shares are up 34 percent this year, to report earnings per share for the fourth quarter of $0.67, up 24.1 percent from from 2014 levels. Ninety days ago, the analyst consensus for the fourth quarter was for EPS of $0.63; views have been raised by $0.04, which is always preferable to views decreasing or staying the same.
Often, companies that have shares that have outperformed the broad market will be experiencing year-over-year EPS growth above 20 percent. Upward revisions to analyst EPS estimates are common among companies with strong performing shares as well.
Also, effective use of debt by management often goes hand-in-hand with strong share performance. Facebook carries $126.0 million in debt and has a debt to equity ratio of 0.3 percent, or almost zero.
Amazon, on the other hand, carries $18.6 billion in debt and has a debt to equity ratio of 149.5 percent. However, for the fourth quarter of 2015, Amazon’s EPS is expected to grow 266.7 percent from 2014 levels. More than 10 times that of Facebook’s EPS.
Why then are Amazon shares up 112 percent in 2015, while Facebook shares are up only 34 percent? The market has put a premium on Facebook’s plain growth compared with Amazon’s levered growth, even though Amazon shares are up more than three times as much.
Very few companies have management teams that can effectively translate debt into earnings growth the way Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his team at Amazon can. However, at some point, debt needs to be paid back; earnings can only grow so high, and shares can only climb for so long. For the time being, though, Facebook and Amazon look set to continue their leadership of the stock market in the United States.
Last Friday, Investor’s Business Daily changed its market outlook from “uptrend under pressure” to “market in correction” suggesting that weakness may be ahead for stock market investors, as reported by The Inquisitr.
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