Welcome to April. The first quarter is behind us, and that means it’s time for the first update of the Best Stocks for 2018 contest.
It was kind of a wild ride, as the markets have faltered a little in the face of headline fears and maybe just too much bullishness for too long. A correction isn’t a bad thing, but it can make the rankings a little unpredictable.
So far, I’ll bet some of the top five are a real surprise, and the top spot itself has changed hands a few times, but now things are starting to settle down a little for our experts’ picks.
At least until the next time the markets get shaken up.
Well, with April officially underway a shakeup can no longer happen for our first-quarter results, so here they are, in ascending order:
Best Stocks for 2018 No. 10: Market Vectors Rare Earth Strat Met ETF (REMX)
Year-to-Date Change at the End of Q1: -7.5%
Investor: John Jagerson and Wade Hansen
Low oil prices are good for some companies and bad for others, but some people might not think an exchange-traded fund like the Vaneck Vectors Rare Earth Strategic Metals ETF (NYSEARCA:REMX) would have all that much interest.
But here’s the thing. If gas is cheap, there is less incentive for regular drivers to swap to an electric car from their current gas-powered vehicles. As they wrote, “While demand for electric car batteries is still increasing thanks to government-imposed quotas, demand from individual consumers could wane if gasoline prices don’t continue to increase.”
The company is still under some pressure, but long-term it still has some up-trends and 2018 is still relatively young.
Best Stocks for 2018 No. 9: Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (EPD)
YTD Change: -6.2%
Investor: Charles Sizemore
Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE:EPD) has struggled in the first quarter of 2018. Why? The answer isn’t easy to find. Oil prices have not taken off, but that can’t be all the reason, as MLPs like EPD are cheap right now. The answer might be out of the company’s hands.
As Sizemore pointed out, “Out of nowhere, there was an enormous surge of selling on heavy volume around 10:45 that ended just as quickly as it started. Rumor has it that a large closed-end fund specializing in MLPs was forced to liquidate a large chunk of shares in order to meet a quarter-end deadline to reduce leverage.”
But the news in EPD is generally good, and there’s still plenty of time for it to catch back up.
Best Stocks for 2018 No. 8: Mosaic Co (MOS)
YTD Change: -5.3%
Investor: Charles Payne
Whatever the headlines, whatever the politics, one thing that will never change — we all need to eat. And Mosaic Co (NYSE:MOS) is a company that helps crops grow healthy and bountiful.
While it’s down on the year so far, MOS stock doesn’t bear all of the blame. Even the increased volatility in the markets didn’t do it. No, as Payne writes, “Part of this has to do with the fact that agriculture chemical stocks in general got hit on news that The Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON)-Bayer merger might be blocked — polls have found that a large majority of farmers are concerned that it will negatively impact independent farmers and farming communities.”
It will be interesting to see if the bullish outlook can translate into stock price increases during the rest of 2018.
Best Stocks for 2018 No. 7: J M Smucker Co (SJM)
YTD Change: 0.4%
Investor: Hilary Kramer
While it has faced some challenges so far in 2018, the best part of J M Smucker Co (NYSE:SJM) may just be waking up. And a big part of that continues to be coffee.
“Smucker’s coffee segment is benefiting from the sale of Dunkin’ Donuts pods and the growing popularity of SJM’s Café Bustelo brand. In addition, management introduced a high-end Folger’s product, 1850, as they try to maintain market share with Folger’s products,” writes Kramer.
While SJM is having some pains right now, it’s setting itself up for growth down the road.
Best Stocks for 2018 No. 6: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG)
YTD Change: 11.8%
Investor: Kyle Woodley
With its E. coli problems hopefully firmly in the rearview mirror, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) is looking for clearer roads ahead.
Part of that is its choice of new CEO Brian Niccol, formerly at Taco Bell. His leadership worked wonders for Taco Bell, and the markets clearly hope he can do the same thing with Chipotle. As Woodley wrote, “Niccol helped transform Taco Bell from an also-ran fast-food joint that was trying to rescue its image from a lawsuit over filling in its beef to one of the more clever marketers in the fast-food world. It has added delivery service, experimented with alcohol and launched enormous successes such as Doritos Locos Tacos.” Good time ahead, right?
Well, there is one potential speed bump.
Rumors continue to swirl that Chipotle may be considering branching out to breakfast. That move may have worked for Taco Bell, but it probably would have the opposite impact on Chipotle.
Best Stocks for 2018 No. 5: Nvidia Corporation (NVDA)
YTD Change: 19.8%
Investor: Louis Navellier
Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) was a winner for Navellier last year, and while it isn’t leading right now, it’s still putting in a strong showing after the first quarter.
While many things are helping to buoy NVDA stock, one particular thing is giving it a boost right now. As Navellier says, “For starters, Nvidia just dropped what’s known as the ‘holy grail’ of gaming graphics right into the gaming industry’s lap. In March, Nvidia revealed their new ray-tracing technology, NVIDIA RTX™.”
Ray tracing is a way of processing light effects that allows for more realistic graphics.
That combined with its AI for a variety of sectors like healthcare and automobiles are putting Nvidia at the leading edge of upcoming technologies.
Best Stocks for 2018 No. 4: Twitter Inc (TWTR)
YTD Change: 20.8%
Investor: Jason Moser
To keep this brief (get it?), the real turnaround for Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) stock has everything to do with the fundamentals. Twitter is reining in the bottom line, aiding margins with more fareful financial stewardship.
It’s also making improvements to the platform itself, which encourage users to stay more involved. As Moser says, “Platform enhancements (280 characters, live video, etc.) continue to stoke engagement, and investments in features and measurement for ad clients is helping to get the business growing again. Ad engagements were up 75% while cost per engagement declined 42% from a year ago.”
While some were surprised to see it in the contest this year, TWTR stock has more than proven it’s worthy of a place in this list and it is still in the running for Best Stock for 2018.
Best Stocks for 2018 No. 3: Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. (BR)
YTD Change: 22.1%
Investor: Matt McCall
Investors may disagree on the future and strength of bitcoin, but the future of blockchain is a different matter, and that’s part of why Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. (NYSE:BR) is doing so well in 2018.
McCall says, “The upside for this once slow-growth business has increased dramatically with the introduction of blockchain to its model. And considering the technology increases efficiency, the speed of transactions, overall transparency and cost savings, there aren’t many financial firms that shy away from it. Given that BR is already a well-established player in its sector, blockchain was an easy sell to its current clients.”
BR stock has held up well amid the increasing volatility and could become the Best Stock of 2018.
Best Stocks for 2018 No. 2: Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN)
YTD Change: 23.8%
Investor: Readers’ Choice
Whether Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) or Broadridge is in second place in the contest has mostly depended on what day you checked the standings — and sometimes even what hour. Amazon managed to have the spot when the last trading day of the quarter ended, however.
In spite of headline troubles and a larger tech stock swoon, AMZN has continued to stand strong, boasting another quarter of strong results. Amazon Web Services keeps on growing.
And let’s not forget about Amazon Go officially opening its first store.
It’s going to be interesting to see where AMZN stock goes from here.
Best Stocks for 2018 No. 1: Etsy Inc (ETSY)
YTD Change: 37%
Investor: Tracey Ryniec
Over the first three months, Etsy Inc (NYSE:ETSY) has crafted an impressive 37% run, enough to put it handily in the lead at the end of the first quarter.
So what has ETSY stock done so well? To start with, it’s making some hard choices that are paying off. As Ryniec wrote, “You can really see the impact of the layoffs in the operating expenses numbers. They were up 5.7% year-over-year to $73.8 million, but represented just 54.1% of revenue, which was down from 63.3% of revenue in the fourth quarter of 2016.”
Etsy has put forth a four-point turnaround strategy, and so far, its efforts seem to be working. It’s making the experience on its sites better even as it’s better managing the business side.
All that was enough to give it the early lead!
Jessica Loder is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, she did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.