Bulletin
Investor Alert

New York Markets After Hours

Philip van Doorn

Deep Dive Archives | Email alerts

Jan. 9, 2015, 11:47 a.m. EST

Here are the best-performing stocks so far in 2015

Retailers bounce back after reporting strong holiday sales

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

  • X
    Euro (EURUSD)
  • X
    Repligen Corp. (RGEN)
  • X
    J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (JCP)

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Philip van Doorn, MarketWatch


Bloomberg News/Landov
A preliminary report of a 3.7% increase in comparable-store sales sent J.C. Penney’s stock up 20% on Wednesday.

Stock market indices have risen so far this year, with the past two strong trading sessions making up for the previous two days of pain.

With economic and political uncertainty tied to the decline of the euro /zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled EURUSD +0.0183% , the big unknown of just how low the price of oil might fall and the 5% third-quarter U.S. GDP growth rate, the dollar is playing its customary role as a safe haven for investors. That has caused the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury note to decline to 2.03% Thursday from 2.17% at the end of 2014. The yield on the 10-year dropped 87 basis points last year.

So it’s not much of a surprise that among stocks included in the S&P 1500 Composite Index, the weakest performers have been in the Oil and Gas Drilling subsector, which is down 8% so far in 2015, while the strongest subsector has been Real Estate Investment Trusts, which tend to feature high dividend yields and are therefore especially sensitive to rising interest rates.

There’s plenty of expectations for the Federal Reserve to begin raising the short-term federal funds rate this year, since the benchmark rate has been locked in a range of zero to 0.25% since late 2008. But even when the Fed finally makes that move, market forces may hold down long-term interest rates for an extended period.

Looking more closely at the S&P 1500, the 10 stocks with the biggest gains so far this year are a diverse group, although four are in the Health Care sector and none of the high-flying REITs made the list:

Company Ticker Industry Total return - YTD Total return - 3 years Total return - 5 years
Repligen Corp. /zigman2/quotes/210324360/lastsale RGEN Biotechnology 24% 611% 547%
J.C. Penney Co. /zigman2/quotes/204684963/lastsale JCP Department Stores 23% -77% -68%
Aeropostale Inc. Apparel/ Footwear Retail 21% -83% -87%
Ebix Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208723424/lastsale EBIX Insurance Brokers/ Services 20% -5% 22%
Sonic Corp. Restaurants 13% 371% 259%
Akorn Inc. /zigman2/quotes/208960448/lastsale AKRX Medical Distributors 11% 269% 2,341%
Merck & Co. /zigman2/quotes/209956077/lastsale MRK Major Pharmaceuticals 11% 92% 103%
Papa John’s International Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207343722/lastsale PZZA Restaurants 10% 229% 425%
Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200566298/lastsale DKS Specialty Stores 10% 70% 132%
Boston Scientific Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203726728/lastsale BSX Medical Specialties 10% 175% 62%
Total returns assume reinvested dividends. Data source: FactSet

In comparison, the S&P 1500 Index has returned 72% over the past three years and its five-year total return is 101%.

Shares of Repligen Corp.  are up 24% this year, having popped 23% on Thursday, after the company said it had received a $1 million milestone payment from Pfizer Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202877789/lastsale PFE +2.28%  for the development of compounds that could potentially be used to treat spinal muscular atrophy and that it was eligible to receive up to $63 million in additional payments under its agreement. The company also said its revenue for 2014 would range from $63 million to $63.5 million, and projected 2015 revenue would range from $69 million to $72 million.

The second- and third-best-performing S&P 1500 stocks are retailers, which have done terribly over the past three years. Because they’re heavily shorted, they’ve been set up for short squeezes on any good news, as short-sellers buy shares to cover their positions, thus pushing up the stock prices.

J.C. Penney Co.  ranks second, with a year-to-date total return of 23%, springing from the company’s preliminary announcement late on Tuesday that its comparable-store sales for the nine-week November and December period were up 3.7% from a year earlier. That good news sent the shares up 20% on Wednesday. The stock rose another 1% on Thursday, as investors failed to show any concern over J.C. Penney’s decision to close 40 stores and cut 2,250 jobs.

Ranking third is Aeropostale Inc. , with a 21% year-to-date gain. The stock was up 24% Thursday when the teen retailer raised its fourth-quarter outlook and said its margins were higher than expected, although its comparable sales were down 9% for the nine-week period ended Jan. 3.

/zigman2/quotes/210561242/realtime/sampled
US : Tullett Prebon
1.0933
+0.0002 +0.0183%
Volume: 0.0000
April 9, 2020 5:10p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/210324360/lastsale
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 98.95
+2.45 +2.54%
Volume: 367,634
April 9, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
225.35
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$5.03 billion
Rev. per Employee
$354,073
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/204684963/lastsale
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 0.34
+0.02 +5.11%
Volume: 9.04M
April 9, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$104.35 million
Rev. per Employee
$126,516
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208723424/lastsale
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 16.89
-0.09 -0.53%
Volume: 964,855
April 9, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
5.35
Dividend Yield
1.78%
Market Cap
$517.48 million
Rev. per Employee
$53,744
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208960448/lastsale
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 0.20
+0.0008 +0.40%
Volume: 5.62M
April 9, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$25.25 million
Rev. per Employee
$312,621
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/209956077/lastsale
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 82.49
+0.87 +1.07%
Volume: 13.22M
April 9, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
21.65
Dividend Yield
2.96%
Market Cap
$206.10 billion
Rev. per Employee
$615,159
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/207343722/lastsale
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 59.00
-0.32 -0.54%
Volume: 696,151
April 9, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
1.53%
Market Cap
$1.92 billion
Rev. per Employee
$87,407
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/200566298/lastsale
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 27.58
+2.15 +8.45%
Volume: 4.15M
April 9, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
8.24
Dividend Yield
4.53%
Market Cap
$2.21 billion
Rev. per Employee
$186,650
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203726728/lastsale
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 36.83
+1.70 +4.84%
Volume: 19.06M
April 9, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
11.07
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$49.15 billion
Rev. per Employee
$306,969
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202877789/lastsale
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 35.39
+0.79 +2.28%
Volume: 27.86M
April 9, 2020 4:10p
P/E Ratio
12.33
Dividend Yield
4.29%
Market Cap
$191.95 billion
Rev. per Employee
$580,595
loading...

Philip van Doorn covers various investment and industry topics. He has previously worked as a senior analyst at TheStreet.com. He also has experience in community banking and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York.

This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Investing

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »
Link to MarketWatch's Slice.