These are the best-performing S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 stocks of 2021

The performance of the stock market in 2021 has been nothing short of remarkable, surprising many investors after the dramatic crash-and-recovery cycle of 2020.

A continuing recovery for the world economy meant increased demand and shortages in various industries, including semiconductors and energy. Some of the best-performing stocks were oil and gas producers, as the price of West Texas Crude oil
CL00
rose 58%.

The following are lists of the best-performing stocks among the benchmark S&P 500 index
SPX,
the the S&P 400 Mid Cap Index
MID,
the S&P Small Cap 600 Index
SML
and the Nasdaq-100 Index
NDX.
Then there’s a list showing how all 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA
have performed in 2021.

All performance figures in this article include reinvested dividends. For starters, here’s a chart showing total returns for all the indexes in 2021 through Dec. 29:


FactSet

The S&P 500 had the top spot with a 29.4% return through Dec. 29, although it had pulled back from its high on Nov. 9, when it was up 32% for 2021.

Best-performing S&P 500 stocks of 2021

The S&P 500 is weighted by market capitalization, which means the largest five companies — Apple Inc.
AAPL,
Microsoft Corp.
MSFT,
Amazon.com Inc.
AMZN,
Alphabet Inc
GOOGL

GOOG
and Tesla Inc.
TSLA
— made up 23% of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF
SPY
as of the close on Dec. 29.

The gains in 2021 were broad, with 88% of the S&P 500 showing positive returns. Here are its 20 best performers in 2021:

Company

Ticker

Industry

Total Return – 2021 through Dec. 29

Devon Energy Corp.

DVN Oil & Gas Production

197.1%

Marathon Oil Corp.

MRO Oil & Gas Production

152.0%

Fortinet Inc.

FTNT Computer Communications

146.9%

Signature Bank

SBNY Regional Banks

139.6%

Moderna Inc.

MRNA Biotechnology

137.3%

Ford Motor Co.

F Motor Vehicles

135.1%

Bath & Body Works Inc.

BBWI Retail

132.7%

Nvidia Corp.

NVDA Semiconductors

130.0%

Diamondback Energy Inc.

FANG Oil & Gas Production

129.3%

Nucor Corp.

NUE Steel

118.9%

Gartner Inc.

IT Internet Software, Services

109.9%

Arista Networks Inc.

ANET Computer Communications

100.6%

Extra Space Storage Inc.

EXR Real Estate Investment Trusts

99.8%

APA Corp.

APA Integrated Oil

98.0%

CF Industries Holdings Inc.

CF Chemicals: Agricultural

95.0%

Simon Property Group Inc.

SPG Real Estate Investment Trusts

94.5%

Seagate Technology Holdings PLC

STX Computer Peripherals

90.9%

EOG Resources Inc.

EOG Oil & Gas Production

90.9%

Iron Mountain Inc.

IRM Real Estate Investment Trusts

89.3%

EPAM Systems Inc.

EPAM Information Technology Services

89.2%

Source: FactSet

You can click the tickers for more about each company. Click here for Tomi Kilgore’s detailed guide to the wealth of information for free on the MarketWatch quote page.

To make any of the lists, a stock had to be traded publicly for all of 2021.

Among the top 20 performers in the S&P 500, five were oil producers.

Ford Motor Co.
F
was up 135%, ranking sixth on the list, with a low valuation to expected earnings helping justify investors’ approval of at the early stage of its switch to electric cars. Ford’s rival General Motors Co.
GM
didn’t make the list, as its stock was up “only” 37.4% in 2021 through Dec. 29 (ranking 186th among the S&P 500), while shares of Tesla were up 53.9% for 2021 following their 743% increase in 2020.

Read: Ford Is More Valuable Than GM for the First Time Since 2016

Best-performing midcap stocks

Remember the meme stocks? Of course you do. GameStop Corp
GME.
led this craze, as traders banded together through the wallstreetbets Reddit channel in early 2021 to bid up the prices of heavily shorted stocks.

Through Jan. 27, shares of GameStop were up 1,744.5% for 2021. Some traders who got in late were burned, as the stock took a dive through Feb. 22. But through Dec. 29, it was up 717% for the year, leading this list of the top 20 performers in the S&P 400 Mid Cap Index:

Company

Ticker

Industry

Total Return – 2021 through Dec. 29.

GameStop Corp. Class A

GME Electronics/ Appliance Stores

717.0%

Avis Budget Group Inc.

CAR Finance, Rental, Leasing

453.8%

Synaptics Inc.

SYNA Semiconductors

203.4%

Alcoa Corp.

AA Aluminum

159.3%

SiTime Corp.

SITM Semiconductors

157.3%

Macy’s Inc.

M Department Stores

142.9%

Olin Corp.

OLN Industrial Specialties

141.6%

Navient Corp

NAVI Finance, Rental, Leasing

124.6%

Murphy Oil Corp.

MUR Oil & Gas Production

122.2%

Louisiana-Pacific Corp.

LPX Forest Products

114.3%

Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc.

DKS Specialty Stores

110.4%

Builders FirstSource Inc.

BLDR Building Products

108.4%

Crocs Inc.

CROX Apparel/Footwear

107.4%

Tenet Healthcare Corp.

THC Hospital, Nursing Management

101.4%

Targa Resources Corp.

TRGP Oil Refining, Marketing

99.0%

National Storage Affiliates Trust

NSA Real Estate Investment Trusts

97.6%

American Financial Group Inc.

AFG Property/ Casualty Insurance

97.2%

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

GT Automotive Aftermarket

96.2%

Life Storage Inc.

LSI Real Estate Investment Trusts

95.3%

Teradata Corp.

TDC Software

95.1%

Source: FactSet

Small-cap stocks

A broad small-cap index, such as the Russell 2000
RUT,
includes companies that haven’t yet turned profits and even some “pre-revenue” companies counting positive outcomes for binary events, such as regulatory approval of medication.

This list of the year’s 20 best-performing small-cap stocks instead relies on the S&P 600 Small Cap Index, which has a tougher selection criteria for initial inclusion. That includes positive earnings for the most recent quarter and for the sum of the most recent four quarters.

Company

Ticker

Industry

Total Return – 2021 through Dec. 29

Veritiv Corp.

VRTV Wholesale Distributors

483.9%

SM Energy Co.

SM Oil & Gas Production

403.1%

Apollo Medical Holdings Inc.

AMEH Services to the Health Industry

305.6%

Callon Petroleum Co.

CPE Oil & Gas Production

284.6%

Customers Bancorp Inc.

CUBI Regional Banks

261.4%

TimkenSteel Corp

TMST Steel

256.3%

Consol Energy Inc

CEIX Coal

229.5%

Laredo Petroleum Inc.

LPI Oil & Gas Production

227.2%

United Natural Foods Inc.

UNFI Food Distributors

219.9%

Cross Country Healthcare Inc.

CCRN Personnel Services

218.2%

Chico’s FAS Inc.

CHS Apparel, Footwear Retail

217.0%

Matador Resources Co.

MTDR Oil & Gas Production

216.4%

Signet Jewelers Ltd.

SIG Specialty Stores

215.4%

Thryv Holdings Inc.

THRY Advertising, Marketing Services

204.6%

Boot Barn Holdings Inc.

BOOT Apparel, Footwear Retail

189.0%

ArcBest Corp.

ARCB Trucking

186.7%

Range Resources Corp.

RRC Oil & Gas Production

183.7%

Perficient Inc.

PRFT Personnel Services

179.8%

Ranger Oil Corp. Class A

ROCC Oil & Gas Production

177.8%

Donnelley Financial Solutions Inc.

DFIN Software

177.7%

Source: FactSet

Turning more to tech: Nasdaq-100

The Nadaq-100 Index includes the largest 100 non-financial stocks by market cap in the full Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP.
It includes Chinese companies that aren’t included in the S&P 500.

Here are the top 20 performers among the Nasdaq-100 in 2021, including Tesla:

Company

Ticker

Industry

Total Return – 2021 through Dec. 29

Lucid Group Inc.

LCID Motor Vehicles

269.3%

Fortinet Inc.

FTNT Computer Communications

146.9%

Moderna Inc.

MRNA Biotechnology

137.3%

Nvidia Corp.

NVDA Semiconductors

130.0%

Applied Materials Inc.

AMAT Industrial Machinery

87.8%

Marvell Technology Inc.

MRVL Semiconductors

86.8%

Datadog Inc Class A

DDOG Packaged Software

82.6%

Intuit Inc.

INTU Packaged Software

71.5%

KLA Corp.

KLAC Semiconductors

70.0%

Alphabet Inc. Class A

GOOGL Internet Software/Services

67.4%

Atlassian Corp. PLC Class A

TEAM Software

63.7%

Zscaler Inc.

ZS Software

61.8%

Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

AMD Semiconductors

61.7%

Palo Alto Networks Inc.

PANW Computer Communications

58.6%

Broadcom Inc.

AVGO Semiconductors

58.1%

O’Reilly Automotive Inc.

ORLY Specialty Stores

56.5%

Lam Research Corp.

LRCX Electronic Production Equipment

55.3%

Microsoft Corp.

MSFT Packaged Software

55.0%

Tesla Inc

TSLA Motor Vehicles

53.9%

Xilinx Inc.

XLNX Semiconductors

53.8%

Source: FactSet

The Dow 30

The Dow Jones Industrial Average brought up the rear in the chart at the top of this article. Home Depot Inc.
HD
took the top stop in the Dow through Dec. 29, with a 57.9% return for 2021, while Walt Disney Co.
DIS
was the worst performer, with a 14.5% decline:

Company

Ticker

Industry

Total Return – 2021 through Dec. 29

Home Depot Inc.

HD Home Improvement Chains

57.9%

Microsoft Corp.

MSFT Packaged Software

55.0%

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

GS Investment Banks, Brokers

49.0%

Cisco Systems Inc.

CSCO Information Technology Services

47.1%

Chevron Corp.

CVX Integrated Oil

47.1%

UnitedHealth Group Inc.

UNH Managed Health Care

46.2%

American Express Co.

AXP Finance, Rental, Leasing

37.1%

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

WBA Drugstore Chains

36.0%

Apple Inc.

AAPL Telecommunications Equipment

36.0%

McDonald’s Corp.

MCD Restaurants

28.0%

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPM Major Banks

27.9%

Procter & Gamble Co.

PG Household, Personal Care

21.0%

Nike Inc. Class B

NKE Apparel, Footwear

20.2%

International Business Machines Corp.

IBM Information Technology Services

16.5%

Caterpillar Inc.

CAT Trucks, Construction, Farm Machinery

16.3%

Travelers Companies Inc.

TRV Multi-Line Insurance

14.8%

Salesforce.com Inc.

CRM Packaged Software

14.4%

Johnson & Johnson

JNJ Pharmaceuticals: Major

11.8%

Coca-Cola Co.

KO Beverages: Non-Alcoholic

10.9%

Dow Inc.

DOW Chemicals: Specialty

7.5%

Intel Corp.

INTC Semiconductors

6.7%

3M Co.

MMM Industrial Conglomerates

5.3%

Merck & Co. Inc.

MRK Pharmaceuticals: Major

2.2%

Amgen Inc.

AMGN Biotechnology

2.1%

Walmart Inc.

WMT Food Retail

0.6%

Visa Inc. Class A

V Finance, Rental, Leasing

0.4%

Honeywell International Inc.

HON Industrial Conglomerates

-0.8%

Boeing Co.

BA Aerospace & Defense

-4.9%

Verizon Communications Inc.

VZ Major Telecommunications

-6.8%

Walt Disney Co.

DIS Cable, Satellite TV

-14.5%

Source: FactSet

More year-end stock-market coverage:

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