These are the best-performing Nasdaq and S&P 500 stocks of 2020


(Updates story with year-end closing prices.)

The pandemic year of 2020 was a surprising one for the stock market as the broad indexes crashed in March, only to roar back as unprecedented stimulus from the federal government and the Federal Reserve drove a tremendous amount of money into equities, even as the economy was reeling.

Below are lists of 2020’s winners among components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average
US:DJIA,
S&P 500
US:SPX
 and Nasdaq-100
US:NDX
 indexes.

Honorable mentions, plus Tesla and a warning

Before going to the broad indexes, it’s important to note that many of this year’s highest flyers aren’t part of the S&P 500 or the Nasdaq-100 Index — or at least not yet. For the Nasdaq-100, it takes time to rebalance the index to bring the largest companies in the Nasdaq Composite Index
US:COMP
 into the smaller subset. Here’s a list of 15 stocks that aren’t yet included in SPX or NDX but soared during 2020.

To gain entry to the S&P 500, a company’s “most recent quarter’s earnings and the sum of its trailing four consecutive quarters’ earnings must be positive” and it must also meet other requirements, according to S&P Global.

Tesla Inc.
US:TSLA
 met the bill and was added to the S&P 500 on Dec. 21, after the stock had skyrocketed 731% by then. The electric-vehicle maker tops the lists, below, of the year’s S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 winners.

But Tesla’s addition to the S&P 500 following five quarters of positive earnings has raised what may be a red flag for some investors. In a note to clients on Dec. 24, Jefferies analyst Christopher Wood pointed out that when Tesla was added to the S&P, its market capitalization was greater than the combined stock-market values of Toyota, Volkswagen
XE:VOW
 
US:VWAGY,
General Motors Co.
US:GM,
Ford Motor Co.
US:F,
Honda Motor Co.
US:HMC
 and Nissan Motor Co.
US:NSANY.
Wood added that all those firms were “busy spending serious amounts of money in electric vehicles, lured by various incentives, be they subsides or fines.”

Here’s the kicker: Wood wrote that as far as he could tell, “Tesla only generates profits at present by selling tax credits,” which are payments to Tesla by other auto manufacturers who make too few electric vehicles to satisfy regulators. Wood continued: “So in this respect, as noted in an excellent article in The Wall Street Journal in August, the irony is that Tesla is worth more than most of the industry it relies on for the subsidies that are the only reason it has been able to report five consecutive quarters of profits.” (The italics are mine.)

More on Tesla and credits:Tesla plays smoke and mirrors with profits again

The FAANGs

Perhaps surprisingly, none of the high-profile FAANG stocks — Facebook Inc.
US:FB,
Amazon.com Inc.
US:AMZN,
Apple Inc.
US:AAPL,
Netflix Inc.
US:NFLX
and Google holding company Alphabet Inc.
US:GOOGL
US:GOOG
— made the S&P 500 list of 20 best performers.

However, Amazon and Apple made the list of top 20 Nasdaq-100 performers, and Apple topped the Dow 30 components. Here’s how the other FAANGs performed in 2020:

• Facebook climbed 33%.

• Netflix jumped 67%.

• Alphabet’s Class C shares and Class A shares gained 31%.

Best-performing S&P 500 stocks of 2020

The S&P 500 rose 16.3% in 2020. (All price changes in this article exclude dividends.) Here are the 20 components of the benchmark index that showed the biggest gains:

Company

Ticker

 Industry 

Price change – 2020

 Tesla Inc. 

US:TSLA
 

 Motor Vehicles 

743%

 Etsy Inc. 

US:ETSY
 

 Miscellaneous Commercial Services 

302%

 Nvidia Corp. 

US:NVDA
 

 Semiconductors 

122%

 PayPal Holdings Inc. 

US:PYPL
 

 Data Processing Services 

117%

 L Brands Inc. 

US:LB
 

 Apparel/Footwear Retail 

105%

 Albemarle Corp. 

US:ALB
 

 Chemicals: Specialty 

102%

 Advanced Micro Devices Inc. 

US:AMD
 

 Semiconductors 

100%

 Freeport-McMoRan Inc. 

US:FCX
 

 Other Metals/Minerals 

98%

 Cadence Design Systems Inc. 

US:CDNS
 

 Software 

97%

 ServiceNow Inc. 

US:NOW
 

 Information Technology Services 

95%

 Align Technology Inc. 

US:ALGN
 

 Medical Specialties 

92%

 Idexx Laboratories Inc. 

US:IDXX
 

 Medical Specialties 

91%

 Abiomed Inc. 

US:ABMD
 

 Medical Specialties 

90%

 West Pharmaceutical Services Inc. 

US:WST
 

 Medical Specialties 

88%

 Synopsys Inc. 

US:SNPS
 

 Software 

86%

 Catalent Inc. 

US:CTLT
 

 Pharmaceuticals: Other 

85%

 Apple Inc. 

US:AAPL
 

 Telecommunications Equipment 

81%

 Quanta Services Inc. 

US:PWR
 

 Engineering & Construction 

77%

 Rollins Inc. 

US:ROL
 

 Other Consumer Services 

77%

 Amazon.com Inc. 

US:AMZN
 

 Internet Retail 

76%

Source: FactSet

Click on the tickers for more about each company, including news coverage, profiles, price ratios, ratings and charts.

Nasdaq-100

The Nasdaq-100 leapt a whopping 47.6% in 2020, while the full Nasdaq Composite Index rose 43.7%. Like the S&P 500, the Nasdaq and Nasdaq-100 are weighted by market capitalization, which means big tech names have driven the indexes’ strong performance.

Here are the 20 best-performing stocks of 2020 among the Nasdaq-100:

Company

Ticker

 Industry 

Price change – 2020

 Tesla Inc. 

US:TSLA
 

 Motor Vehicles 

743%

 Moderna Inc. 

US:MRNA
 

 Biotechnology 

434%

 Peloton Interactive Inc. Class A 

US:PTON
 

 Other Consumer Services 

434%

 Zoom Video Communications Inc. Class A 

US:ZM
 

 Software 

396%

 Pinduoduo Inc. Sponsored ADR Class A 

US:PDD
 

 Internet Retail 

370%

 DocuSign Inc. 

US:DOCU
 

 Software 

200%

 MercadoLibre Inc. 

US:MELI
 

 Internet Software/Services 

193%

 Okta Inc. Class A 

US:OKTA
 

 Software 

120%

 Nvidia Corp. 

US:NVDA
 

 Semiconductors 

122%

 PayPal Holdings Inc. 

US:PYPL
 

 Data Processing Services 

117%

 Advanced Micro Devices Inc. 

US:AMD
 

 Semiconductors 

100%

 Cadence Design Systems Inc. 

US:CDNS
 

 Software 

97%

 Atlassian Corp. PLC Class A 

US:TEAM
 

 Software 

94%

 Idexx Laboratories Inc. 

US:IDXX
 

 Medical Specialties 

91%

 Align Technology Inc. 

US:ALGN
 

 Medical Specialties 

92%

 Apple Inc. 

US:AAPL
 

 Telecommunications Equipment 

81%

 Synopsys Inc. 

US:SNPS
 

 Software 

86%

 Amazon.com Inc. 

US:AMZN
 

 Internet Retail 

76%

 Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 

US:MRVL
 

 Semiconductors 

79%

 T-Mobile US Inc. 

US:TMUS
 

 Wireless Telecommunications 

72%

Source: FactSet

The good, old Dow

By comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added a relatively paltry 7.2% in 2020. Three changes were made to the 30-stock index on Aug: 31:

• Salesforce.com Inc.
US:CRM
 was added, replacing Exxon Mobil Corp.
US:XOM

• Honewell International Inc.
US:HON
 replaced Raytheon Technologies Corp.
US:RTX.

• Amgen Inc.
US:AMGN
 replaced Pfizer Inc.
US:PFE.

Here’s how all 30 current components of the Dow performed in 2020:

Company

Ticker

Price change – 2020

Apple Inc.

US:AAPL
 

81%

Microsoft Corp.

US:MSFT
 

41%

Nike Inc. Class B

US:NKE
 

40%

Salesforce.com Inc.

US:CRM
 

37%

Walt Disney Co.

US:DIS
 

25%

Caterpillar Inc.

US:CAT
 

23%

Home Depot Inc.

US:HD
 

22%

Walmart Inc.

US:WMT
 

21%

Honeywell International Inc.

US:HON
 

20%

UnitedHealth Group Inc.

US:UNH
 

19%

Visa Inc. Class A

US:V
 

16%

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

US:GS
 

15%

Procter & Gamble Co.

US:PG
 

11%

McDonald’s Corp.

US:MCD
 

9%

Johnson & Johnson

US:JNJ
 

8%

Travelers Cos. Inc.

US:TRV
 

2%

Dow Inc.

US:DOW
 

1%

Coca-Cola Co.

US:KO
 

-1%

3M Co.

US:MMM
 

-1%

American Express Co.

US:AXP
 

-3%

Verizon Communications Inc.

US:VZ
 

-4%

Amgen Inc.

US:AMGN
 

-5%

International Business Machines Corp.

US:IBM
 

-6%

Cisco Systems Inc.

US:CSCO
 

-7%

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

US:JPM
 

-9%

Merck & Co. Inc.

US:MRK
 

-10%

Intel Corp.

US:INTC
 

-17%

Chevron Corp.

US:CVX
 

-30%

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc

US:WBA
 

-32%

Boeing Co.

US:BA
 

-34%

Source: FactSet

Don’t miss:20 of analysts’ favorite large-cap stocks for 2021, including GM, Facebook and Salesforce



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