It was a solid year for the stock market all around. But as always, some stocks stood out even more than others.
Biotech and biopharma stocks always have a few names that explode, as is the case with small-cap stocks. But instead of looking at risky, speculative plays that only look awesome in hindsight or simply pointing out the outliers, let’s take a look at a few trends in 2013 that resulted in big gains.
Some of the hottest stocks of 2013 fell into four distinct buckets: 3D printing stocks like 3D Systems (DDD), tech stocks like Google (GOOG), solar stocks like FirstSolar (FSLR) and new stocks (you know, IPOs) like The Container Store (TCS) and Twitter (TWTR).
Let’s take a closer look at each segment to recap the hottest stocks of the year.
Hottest Stocks of 2013 – 3D Printing Stocks
Newfangled 3D printing technology may sound a bit sci-fi … but it’s been a great investment this year.
3D printing stocks like 3D Systems (DDD) and ExOne (XONE) — which also qualifies as one of the year’s new stocks since it came public in early February — more than doubled in 2013, while other 3D printing companies performed well, too.
And there’s good reason to think 3D printing stocks should keep it up in years to come. As Jeff Reeves explained in his recap of the hottest 3D printing companies of 2013, this new technology just might be the next mega-trend. “On-demand manufacturing can reduce costs for both businesses and consumers, 3D printer programmers are the new software engineers, and 3D printing itself has been a defining cultural trend.”
Stratasys (SSYS), VoxelJet (VJET), and Proto Labs (PRLB) are other big-name 3D printing stocks that did well in 2013.
Hottest Stocks of 2013 - Tech Stocks
You don’t have to look much further than the Nasdaq to realize that tech stocks have been on fire of 2013. The nearly 30% gains of the S&P 500 are impressive, but they don’t hold a candle to the 38% year-to-date gains of the Nasdaq.
As Tom Taulli noted in his rundown of the hottest tech stocks of 2013, some of the best tech stocks were behemoths like Pandora (P), Yelp (YELP), LinkedIn (LNKD) and Facebook (FB). Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOG) are also killing the broader market.
Still, those names don’t hold a candle to the biggest winners in the world of tech stocks — names like Globalstar (GSAT), Himax Technologies (HIMX) and China Mobile Games and Entertainment (CMGE) which exploded over 400% in 2013.
Of course, such big gains for tech stocks also has many pundits wondering whether we’re facing yet another tech bubble. So heading into 2014, more outsized gains for leading tech stocks are far from guaranteed.
Hottest Stocks of 2013 - Solar Stocks
If you’re hunting for industries that have momentum and seem likely to keep chugging higher, solar stocks may be the flavor for you. Names like Canadian Solar (CSIQ) and JinkoSolar (JKS) rose from the dead in 2013, thanks to new subsidies from key markets and the mega-shift toward renewable energy.
Other big winners were FirstSolar (FSLR), which has climbed around 80% thanks to its focus on grid-scale projects, and SolarCity (SCTY), which is up almost 400%.
One top of that, when InvestorPlace energy expert Aaron Levitt recapped the sizzling returns for solar stocks recently, he added that “2014 could bring more of the same to the sector.” The tailwinds that pushed solar stocks higher in 2013 don’t look to be going anywhere, and many of the hottest solar stocks are still far off their 2008 peaks.
Hottest Stocks of 2013 - New Stocks
Last but not least, new stocks — companies that pulled off an IPO in 2013 — have also been killing it. This year, 210 companies came public, and the new stocks averaged a market-beating return of 41%. Damn!
Of course, as IPO expert Tom Taulli explained, this shouldn’t be surprising considering equities have been “hitting all-time highs left and right.”
Another thing that shouldn’t be surprising? A few of the names that topped the list of best new stocks. Voxeljet (VJET) — which we mentioned when discussing 3D printing stocks — was one of the best new stocks, while Qiwi (QIWI) and Textura (TXTR) were leading IPOs from the world of tech stocks.
The hottest IPO of all, though, was Insys Therapeutics (INSY) … as it returned 400% from the offer price, blowing away other new stocks on the block.
As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.