There’s a lot of bluster this election year about the economy and President Barack Obama’s effect on jobs and the stock market. But what you may not realize is that many comparisons aren’t exactly fair.
Yes, in November 2008 when Obama won the election, unemployment was just shy of 7%, and when he took office in January it was under 8%. But comparing our current unemployment rate of 8.3% to what things were like when the president took office isn’t so simple. After all, the financial crisis was really only beginning in late 2008, and the Great Recession didn’t peak until mid-2009.
In many ways it’s an accident of timing that Obama has presided over a rise in unemployment more than anything else. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that a previous administration’s policies were in action for those first readings and Obama’s plans hadn’t yet had time to take shape.
The same can apply, however, to the stock market. The bottom of the bear market in equities came in early March 2009. So, in many respects, President Obama “bought the bottom” of the stock market and has simply presided over the rebound. The stock market is up about 55% since January 20, 2009, and a handful of equities are up by dramatically more than that.
Of course, the five-year return for the S&P 500 as of this writing is a loss of 8%, so we haven’t even gotten back to pre-crash levels yet. Let’s not pretend Obama ignited a stock market boom.
Still, investors are addicted to crunching numbers and tracking time frames. So I’ve decided to offer up some of the biggest winners since Obama took the oath of office in January 2009.
I could have included the losers too, but there would be too many tied for losses of 100% via bankruptcy — ranking from the recent failure of Borders to victims like General Motors (NYSE:GM), which went to zero but then got a second life with its 2010 IPO after Chapter 11 reorganization.
Instead, here are the 10 biggest “winners” under Obama, even though the president personally deserves little credit for these success stories:
- Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group (NYSE:DTG), up 5,740%
- Jazz Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:JAZZ), up 3,570%
- Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR), up 2,750%
- Cardtronics (NASDAQ:CATM), up 2,090%
- Pharmasset (NASDAQ:VRUS), up 2,471% based on its buyout by Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD) that was completed Jan. 16 at $137 a share.
- Boise (NYSE:BZ), up 1,560%
- Dana Holding (NYSE:DAN), up 1,460%
- Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX), up 1,390%.
- Valassis Communications (NYSE:VCI), up 1,230%
- Ulta Salon (NASDAQ:ULTA), up 1,160%
Keep in mind that these figures are as of the opening bell on Feb. 2, and just a little difference in share price can really alter these returns considering the long-term change.
I’m not sure whether there are any lessons to learn from this list, either. But at least I hope you find it interesting.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com. Write him at editor@investorplace??.com, follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook. Jeff Reeves holds a position in Alcoa, but no other publicly traded stocks.