Less than three months shy of the bull market’s fifth birthday and the S&P 500 is enroute to its best year since 1997 and, save a New Year's Eve catasrophe, will earn a “top-ten” ranking amidst best years since 1930.
Over a dozen stocks in the large-cap benchmark more doubled this year, but three of them rose more than 200%. Among the darlings was BestBuy (BBY) which was facing extinction and privatization before tearing back. Micron (MU) partied hard in 2013 as well after merging with a rival to boost its clout in the booming tablet and smartphone chip market. And finally, Netflix (NFLX) topped the S&P 500 leaderboard after winning back millions of subscribers thanks to providing award winning content like "Breaking Bad," and originals like "Orange is the New Black" and "House of Cards."
Equally telling is the fact that less than ten percent of the stocks in the S&P 500 finished the year flat or down. But not everyone was as fortunate as the stocks above, notably Newmont Mining (NEM) which was basically cut in half over the past 12 months as the price of gold swooned.
Sector investors have had a field day this year too with all ten economic sectors posting positive gains, particularly the Discretionary (XLY), Health Care (XLV), Industrials (XLI) and Financials (XLF), all of which handily outpaced the broader index.
Even the two worst performing sectors, the Telecoms and Utilities (XLU), still delivered solid results, especially when their above-average dividend yields are added in.
2013 was also a great year for several specialty funds as industries such as Biotech (BBH), Social Media (SOCL), Brokerage firms (IAI), and Aerospace & Defense (ITA) all delivered outsized gains.
And finally, 2013 will be remembered as a year that was quite hard on a few popular investment classes. Notably the declines in Emerging Markets (EEM), Gold (GLD), Treasuries (TLT), and the Vix (VXX), all of which lost ground and stung investors in what was an otherwise solid year for making money.