S&P 500 Studs and Duds of the First Quarter

by Jim Woods | April 4, 2012 11:05 am

To say that the S&P 500 Index had a good start to the year would not only be accurate, it would be the height of understatement. In fact, the stocks that comprise the broad-based measure of the domestic equity market enjoyed their best quarter in years, surging 12% through the quarter ended March 30.

Let’s take a look at the best of the best — and the worst of the worst — based on their percentage gains/losses through the first three months of the year:

Top 10 Studs

Company Ticker Q1 Gain
Sears Holdings SHLD 108.46%
Bank of America BAC 72.34%
Netflix NFLX 66.03%
Whirlpool WHR 63.05%
Regions Financial RF 53.50%
Priceline.com PCLN 53.41%
Salesforce.com CRM 52.29%
Textron TXT 50.63%
Federated Investors FII 49.82%
Advanced Micro Devices AMD 48.52%

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the list was the scintillating performance of Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD[1]), which surged 108.46% during Q1. The company’s shares have been beaten down mercilessly during the past five years, but the announcement that Sears was spinning off its Hometown and Outlet stores[2] — and would raise between $400 million and $500 million by doing so — really pleased Wall Street. The result was buying that made SHLD the No. 1 stud horse in the Q1 corral.

Other notables on the list are financial giant Bank of America (NYSE:BAC[3]), which came off the canvas in Q1[4] with a 72.34% surge; and battered DVD rental firm Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX[5]), which pushed play on its shares to the tune of a 66.03% Q1 showing.

One company that nearly made the Top 10 Studs list was the almighty Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL[6]). The personal technology behemoth’s shares were up an astounding 48% in the first quarter, breaking countless new highs along the way. And, now that Apple has announced its first-ever dividend[7], look for the shares to become even more popular — and perhaps keep going higher — than ever before.

Top 10 Duds

Company Ticker Q1 LOSS
SuperValu SVU 28.75%
Apollo Group APOL 28.27%
First Solar FSLR 25.80%
Alpha Natural Resources ANR 25.55%
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 20.82%
Electronic Arts EA 19.98%
Cabot Oil & Gas COG 17.82%
Frontier Communications FTR 17.17%
Newmont Mining NEM 14.02%
NRG Energy NRG 13.52%

As for the cellar dwellers, many of the names were in energy, transportation and natural resources. Natural gas and oil firm Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE:COG[8]) made it on the Top 10 Duds list with a 17.82% decline. However, that stock wasn’t nearly as poor a performer as the two worst stocks in the index.

Part of that dubious distinction goes to for-profit education provider Apollo Group (NASDAQ:APOL[9]), whose shares tumbled 28.27% through the first three months of the year. Meanwhile, the biggest dud in the quarter was grocery chain operator Supervalu (NYSE:SVU[10]), whose shares sank 28.75%, edging out Apollo for the inauspicious award as biggest loser during one of the best quarters for the overall market in years.

So, what will Q2 bring about in terms of studs and duds? Tune back in three months from now and I’ll let you know.

As of this writing, Jim Woods did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

  1. SHLD: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=SHLD
  2. Sears was spinning off its Hometown and Outlet stores: http://investorplace.com/2012/02/sears-has-investors-looking-forward-and-buying/
  3. BAC: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=BAC
  4. which came off the canvas in Q1: http://investorplace.com/2012/04/best-and-worst-dow-stocks-of-q1/
  5. NFLX: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=NFLX
  6. AAPL: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=AAPL
  7. Apple has announced its first-ever dividend: http://investorplace.com/2012/03/does-apple-dividend-signal-end-of-growth-aapl/
  8. COG: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=COG
  9. APOL: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=APOL
  10. SVU: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=SVU

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