There’s no question that tech stocks have been the top performing stocks so far in 2023. This explains why, at 16.4%, the Nasdaq has so handedly outperformed the S&P 500’s return of 8.1%, as well as the other major US stock indices.
Will the leaders of the first quarter be the leaders in the second quarter? For many investors — particularly active investors — it’s hard to bet against a stock or group that has done nothing wrong. These stocks continue to trend higher while putting in higher highs and higher lows.
If that were to change — in other words, if the trend were to fail — then we could change our tune. Let’s look at a few of the best performing stocks to see if they can continue to ring up gains.
General Electric (GE)
Going outside of technology, General Electric (NYSE:GE) has been a stellar performer. Shares were up 44% in the first quarter and sport a year-to-date gain of more than 50%. The stock is riding a three-month win streak and trying to make it four in a row with a positive April.
The rally has been strong but controlled, rallying 13 of the last 18 weeks. However, four of those five weekly declines were less than 2.1% (and two were less than 1%). In other words, the upside rallies have been strong and the pullbacks have been shallow.
GE has not been known for its stellar performances over the years, but CEO Larry Culp has the firm moving in the right direction. At the start of the year, the company spun off GE HealthCare Technologies (NASDAQ:GEHC), while management recently reiterated its free cash flow outlook for the full year.
Management stuck to the same guidance from January: “Free cash flow of $3.4 billion to $4.2 billion. Operating profit at GE Aerospace is expected to be between $5.3 billion and $5.7 billion.” However, the reiteration of it instilled confidence for investors who are now looking for a good dip to buy.
Meta Platforms (META)
Sticking with the second best performing stock in the S&P 500 from Q1, Meta is on our list. Shares of Meta were obliterated from the highs. Not only did weakness in the ad market hurt the company, but its enormous investments in the metaverse and other potential growth markets whittled away at the bottom line.
Put another way, both the top- and bottom-lines were under pressure from different forces. That ultimately led to a peak-to-trough decline of 76% in the stock price. For a company of this size — with a market capitalization of $1.14 trillion at its peak — shedding more than three-quarters of its value seemed virtually impossible.
Now though, the stock has been on fire.
Shares have rallied almost 150% off the low and continue to trade quite well. At some point, this will likely get knocked down and pull back. That pullback may even materialize after the company reports earnings next week (on April 26).
But until the trend materially breaks, investors should consider sticking with this one. Meta remains focused on the bottom line, trades at just over 21 times this year’s earnings and is forecast to generate positive revenue growth of 16.1% this year and 24.7% next year.
First Solar (FSLR)
First Solar has been a monstrous performer, recently hitting its highest level since 2008! The stock has rallied in three straight quarters and sports a year-to-date gain of about 49%.
Worth noting is that each 15% to 20% dip has been bought this year. In other words, the stock has been a bit volatile but so far the bulls remain in control this year.
When the company reported earnings in late February, it delivered a solid top- and bottom-line result. More importantly though, it provided stronger-than-expected guidance for the full year. Management expects earnings of $7.00 to $8.00 a share on $3.4 billion to $3.6 billion in sales.
That easily topped consensus estimates of $5.56 a share on $3.38 billion in revenue.
Even after the big upside move, First Solar still trades at a reasonable valuation, just under 30 times earnings. For some, that may seem rich. But this company is forecast to grow revenue in excess of 30% in each of the next two years — and grow earnings 80% in 2024.
On the date of publication, Bret Kenwell did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.