The first quarter of 2013 clearly has been a good one for the equity market overall, and on Thursday, the S&P 500 reached its all-time closing high. According to FactSet, five stocks in the index have surged 50% or more since the beginning of the year, and to this point, movie renter Netflix (NFLX) is No. 1 overall.
Yahoo Finance data show that, as of the previous close, the S&P is better by 6.9% from the first trading day in January, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is ahead by 8.3%. The Nasdaq Composite has added 5%.
However, those upward moves are, as always, going to be paltry compared with the biggest percentage-gaining shares. So far, the S&P's winners are led by Netflix and its increase of 106.8%.
Doubling a share price in a quarter is always impressive, but that said, the major part of Netflix's climb occurred over just a few days in January after it reported a strong holiday run for its business. The shares closed at $97.81 on Jan. 22, and by Jan. 25, they were at $169.56.
Still, go back a few more months, and the stock had its 52-week low of $52.81. So from then, it's more than tripled. In recent trading, it was at $188.82.
Along with Netflix, here are the other four names that make up the best-performing S&P 500 stocks this year (because the market is closed tomorrow for Good Friday, today is the last trading day of the quarter):
Of course, there are always the losers as well. The names on the downside in the first quarter are paced by miner Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF), with a loss of 52.4%.
The laggards are as follows, and because of a tie for fifth-worst return, the list has six companies:Source: FactSet. Data through March 27, 2013.
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