This is it. As the last quarter of 2017 begins, the 10 stocks in our contest are facing their one final chance to go for the gold.
For some names that should be easy. Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) has been leading the charge for a while, and second and third places may have switched, but they haven’t let the rest of the pack catch up.
Other stocks are going to need a serious year-end run-up to have any hope of catching up. A Christmas miracle, perhaps?
As the final quarter gets underway, here’s how all of our contestants are doing — including the readers’ choice.
Without further ado …
Best Stocks for 2017: Zynerba (ZYNE)
Third-Quarter Performance: -46%
Investor: Adam Johnson
Oh, Zynerba Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ZYNE). What happened?
Well, we kind of know what happened. While the stock was already slipping by the time August rolled around — down almost 25% off its 2017 high — the death knell for Zynerba in the Best Stocks contest came on Aug. 7, when the company announced that in its phase-2 clinical trial, its candidate ZYN002 had failed to beat the placebo.
That’s bad news for any drugmaker.
While this doesn’t mean things are over for ZYNE stock, it does, unfortunately, mean that the contest crown is probably well out of reach.
Best Stocks for 2017: Trip Advisor (TRIP)
Q3 Performance: -13%
Investor: Jason Moser
TripAdvisor Inc (NASDAQ:TRIP) is a healthy business, but you might not guess it by the price action in TRIP stock during 2017 so far.
While the stock has languished, according to Moser, “the platform itself remains highly engaged.” Reviews and average monthly users are trending upward, as has hotel shopper growth.
“It has been a tough 2017 so far for the stock and if this were a platform in decline I would be concerned,” Moser said. “However the numbers tell a story of a platform on the rise, one that is becoming more engaging not less.”
Now TRIP just has to turn that activity into stock price growth to make investors happy.
Best Stocks for 2017: Ulta Beauty (ULTA)
Q3 Performance: -11%
Investor: Tracey Ryniec
So, what happened to Ulta Beauty Inc (NASDAQ:ULTA)? Was it a bad earnings miss?
Well, no. ULTA actually did pretty well on its report, meeting revenue expectations and exceeding on earnings by a few cents. However, the numbers weren’t as big as expected, and guidance wasn’t as high as people hoped.
As a result, ULTA stock lost 9% in the immediate aftermath of the report, a loss it’s still struggling to make up. Downgrades by Oppenheimer and BMO Capital Markets didn’t help matters either.
That wasn’t the start of ULTA’s downtrend, which began in early June. However, Ulta Beauty remains a strong company and one of the few successfully standing against Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).
Best Stocks for 2017: Newell Brands (NWL)
Q3 Performance: -3%
Investor: Hilary Kramer
Unexpected setbacks for a company can come from any number of places. For Newell Brands Inc (NYSE:NWL) this summer and fall, they came from Mother Nature herself.
After hurricanes impacted about 70% of the resin suppliers that Newell works with, NWL stock turned some weakness into a pretty significant downtrend — the stock is off by over 20% since Aug. 25.
But that short-term weakness cannot alter the fact that NWL is still a good company. And according to Kramer, “I view the selling as overdone. The chemical plants NWL works with were temporarily shut down by the weather but not destroyed. Emergency pricing the company had to accept doesn’t represent a permanent drag on the margins, and if anything, it’s already more or less back to business as usual.”
All in all, this should be a temporary setback, not a long-term problem for NWL stock.
Best Stocks for 2017: Zions Bancorp (ZION)
Q3 Performance: 12%
Investors: John Jagerson and Wade Hansen
Things were a little rough on Zions Bancorp (NASDAQ:ZION) in the earlier part of the year, but as the Donald Trump administration started to make more headway on some of its business-friendly promises, Zions looks better as well.
The stock has bumped up against resistance at around $46. If it can push through there, we could see more good things for ZION stock’s price.
And lately, oil prices have also rebounded a bit. That’s also good for Zions, which has energy loans on its books. If the president can also manage to address tax reform, that can only help ZION stock further.
Best Stocks for 2017: General Motors (GM)
Q3 Performance: 20%
Investor: Charles Sizemore
Plenty of people were happy to write off General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), but Sizemore saw something in it, and he’s proven to be the more correct one so far — without dividends, GM has gained 16.2% so far, while the S&P 500 gained 12.1%.
He points out that not only does the stock remain cheap and likely still undervalued, but that plenty of other smart investors have stakes in General Motors. This suggests that the company likely still has more upside to offer, cyclical auto market or no.
He also addresses the fears that Millennials are going to kill the auto industry because they prefer public transportation to automobile ownership.
“Well, that was true when the Millennials were fresh out of college, broke and single,” he writes. “But as the Millennials get settled into their careers, get married (or at least move in with their partners) and have children, they’re starting to look a lot like their parents.
And you can only expect that trend to continue as they age. That means a lot of SUV and minivan sales in the years ahead.”
Best Stocks for 2017: Citigroup (C)
Q3 Performance: 24%
Investor: Ken Trester
As with ZION, Trump’s policies are slowly but surely making a better situation for Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C). However, the gains have been even larger for the much-bigger Citigroup, which has a market cap about 20 times that of Zions.
Citigroup just hit a 52-week high this week, and since it operates in more than 100 countries, it can also benefit from recoveries in areas like Latin America and Asia.
Its latest earnings didn’t hurt either — EPS of $1.28 and revenue of $17.9 billion both beat expectations. All in all, C stock is on the rise, though it’ll need a big catalyst to challenge the leaders during the final quarter of the year.
Best Stocks for 2017: Coresite (COR)
Q3 Performance: 46%
Investor: Brett Owens
The world has a voracious, growing appetite for data storage, and Coresite Realty Corp (NYSE:COR) is making investors rich by feeding that hunger.
More specifically, as Owens said, it “builds ‘roads’ — private data center facilities — for the bustling information superhighway. It then collects tolls by leasing them back to its clients.”
So the more devices are online and the more data is flying back and forth, the more companies will lean on COR. And that has been reflected in the dividend, which has gotten two bumps up between last September and now — from 53 cents to 90 cents per quarter.
It has done quite well this year, and there’s still time for it to make a final push for the top spot.
Best Stocks for 2017: Albemarle (ALB)
Q3 Performance: 60%
Investor: Matt McCall
Coming in second through three quarters, Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB) is banking on another big trend in 2017 — the growth of electric cars.
You see, electric vehicles use lithium batteries, and Albemarle is a leader in lithium production.
According to McCall, “If current research is accurate regarding the number of EVs on the road in the next decade, we should see a huge supply crunch for lithium. And any related business will only boom.”
So far it has already boomed an impressive amount for investors, but there could still be room for it to catch up to our leader…
Best Stocks for 2017: Nvidia (NVDA)
Q3 Performance: 68%
Investor: Louis Navellier
Nvidia has retained the top spot in our Best Stocks contest for the second straight quarter. It started a little slow, but since May 9 earnings, it has taken off and pretty much never looked back.
Nvidia, the king of the GPU, has enjoyed growth on a number of fronts this year, including cell phones, gaming and self-driving cars. And investors are taking notice.
“In fact, in regards to earnings per share, the consensus estimate has been revised an incredible 20.5% higher in the past two months. Analysts are now expecting 13.3% annual earnings growth in the third quarter,” Navellier wrote. “But given Nvidia’s history of topping earnings estimates, I’m expecting even bigger numbers.”
Best Stocks for 2017: Amazon (AMZN)
Q3 Performance: 28.2%
Investor: Readers’ Choice
Amazon is a beast of a stock, and has done pretty well for the readers so far this year.
The third quarter was lackluster, struggling to get back to breakeven. However, things could still get back on track for 2017 if investors can see some positives from the acquisition of Whole Foods.
In the meantime, AMZN stock is still up 27.5% year-to-date, and with the holiday season still on tap, there’s the chance for plenty of upside even without Whole Foods. This is especially true if it can capitalize in any significant way on the troubles at Toys ‘R Us.
As of this writing, Jessica Loder did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.