These are the best-performing S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 stocks of 2021

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The performance of the stock market in 2021 has been nothing short of remarkable, surprising many investors after the dramatic crash-and-recovery cycle of 2020.

A continuing recovery for the world economy meant increased demand and shortages in various industries, including semiconductors and energy. Some of the best-performing stocks were oil and gas producers, as the price of West Texas Crude oil CL00 rose 58%.

The following are lists of the best-performing stocks among the benchmark S&P 500 index SPX, the the S&P 400 Mid Cap Index MID, the S&P Small Cap 600 Index SML and the Nasdaq-100 Index NDX. Then there’s a list showing how all 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA have performed in 2021.

All performance figures in this article include reinvested dividends. For starters, here’s a chart showing total returns for all the indexes in 2021 through Dec. 29:

FactSet

The S&P 500 had the top spot with a 29.4% return through Dec. 29, although it had pulled back from its high on Nov. 9, when it was up 32% for 2021.

Best-performing S&P 500 stocks of 2021

The S&P 500 is weighted by market capitalization, which means the largest five companies — Apple Inc. AAPL, Microsoft Corp. MSFT, Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, Alphabet Inc GOOGL GOOG and Tesla Inc. TSLA — made up 23% of the SPDR S&P 500 ETF SPY as of the close on Dec. 29.

The gains in 2021 were broad, with 88% of the S&P 500 showing positive returns. Here are its 20 best performers in 2021:

Company Ticker Industry Total Return – 2021 through Dec. 29
Devon Energy Corp. DVN Oil & Gas Production 197.1%
Marathon Oil Corp. MRO Oil & Gas Production 152.0%
Fortinet Inc. FTNT Computer Communications 146.9%
Signature Bank SBNY Regional Banks 139.6%
Moderna Inc. MRNA Biotechnology 137.3%
Ford Motor Co. F Motor Vehicles 135.1%
Bath & Body Works Inc. BBWI Retail 132.7%
Nvidia Corp. NVDA Semiconductors 130.0%
Diamondback Energy Inc. FANG Oil & Gas Production 129.3%
Nucor Corp. NUE Steel 118.9%
Gartner Inc. IT Internet Software, Services 109.9%
Arista Networks Inc. ANET Computer Communications 100.6%
Extra Space Storage Inc. EXR Real Estate Investment Trusts 99.8%
APA Corp. APA Integrated Oil 98.0%
CF Industries Holdings Inc. CF Chemicals: Agricultural 95.0%
Simon Property Group Inc. SPG Real Estate Investment Trusts 94.5%
Seagate Technology Holdings PLC STX Computer Peripherals 90.9%
EOG Resources Inc. EOG Oil & Gas Production 90.9%
Iron Mountain Inc. IRM Real Estate Investment Trusts 89.3%
EPAM Systems Inc. EPAM Information Technology Services 89.2%
Source: FactSet

You can click the tickers for more about each company. Click here for Tomi Kilgore’s detailed guide to the wealth of information for free on the MarketWatch quote page.

To make any of the lists, a stock had to be traded publicly for all of 2021.

Among the top 20 performers in the S&P 500, five were oil producers.

Ford Motor Co. F was up 135%, ranking sixth on the list, with a low valuation to expected earnings helping justify investors’ approval of at the early stage of its switch to electric cars. Ford’s rival General Motors Co. GM didn’t make the list, as its stock was up “only” 37.4% in 2021 through Dec. 29 (ranking 186th among the S&P 500), while shares of Tesla were up 53.9% for 2021 following their 743% increase in 2020.

Read: Ford Is More Valuable Than GM for the First Time Since 2016

Best-performing midcap stocks

Remember the meme stocks? Of course you do. GameStop Corp GME. led this craze, as traders banded together through the wallstreetbets Reddit channel in early 2021 to bid up the prices of heavily shorted stocks.

Through Jan. 27, shares of GameStop were up 1,744.5% for 2021. Some traders who got in late were burned, as the stock took a dive through Feb. 22. But through Dec. 29, it was up 717% for the year, leading this list of the top 20 performers in the S&P 400 Mid Cap Index:

Company Ticker Industry Total Return – 2021 through Dec. 29.
GameStop Corp. Class A GME Electronics/ Appliance Stores 717.0%
Avis Budget Group Inc. CAR Finance, Rental, Leasing 453.8%
Synaptics Inc. SYNA Semiconductors 203.4%
Alcoa Corp. AA Aluminum 159.3%
SiTime Corp. SITM Semiconductors 157.3%
Macy’s Inc. M Department Stores 142.9%
Olin Corp. OLN Industrial Specialties 141.6%
Navient Corp NAVI Finance, Rental, Leasing 124.6%
Murphy Oil Corp. MUR Oil & Gas Production 122.2%
Louisiana-Pacific Corp. LPX Forest Products 114.3%
Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. DKS Specialty Stores 110.4%
Builders FirstSource Inc. BLDR Building Products 108.4%
Crocs Inc. CROX Apparel/Footwear 107.4%
Tenet Healthcare Corp. THC Hospital, Nursing Management 101.4%
Targa Resources Corp. TRGP Oil Refining, Marketing 99.0%
National Storage Affiliates Trust NSA Real Estate Investment Trusts 97.6%
American Financial Group Inc. AFG Property/ Casualty Insurance 97.2%
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. GT Automotive Aftermarket 96.2%
Life Storage Inc. LSI Real Estate Investment Trusts 95.3%
Teradata Corp. TDC Software 95.1%
Source: FactSet
Small-cap stocks

A broad small-cap index, such as the Russell 2000 RUT, includes companies that haven’t yet turned profits and even some “pre-revenue” companies counting positive outcomes for binary events, such as regulatory approval of medication.

This list of the year’s 20 best-performing small-cap stocks instead relies on the S&P 600 Small Cap Index, which has a tougher selection criteria for initial inclusion. That includes positive earnings for the most recent quarter and for the sum of the most recent four quarters.

Company Ticker Industry Total Return – 2021 through Dec. 29
Veritiv Corp. VRTV Wholesale Distributors 483.9%
SM Energy Co. SM Oil & Gas Production 403.1%
Apollo Medical Holdings Inc. AMEH Services to the Health Industry 305.6%
Callon Petroleum Co. CPE Oil & Gas Production 284.6%
Customers Bancorp Inc. CUBI Regional Banks 261.4%
TimkenSteel Corp TMST Steel 256.3%
Consol Energy Inc CEIX Coal 229.5%
Laredo Petroleum Inc. LPI Oil & Gas Production 227.2%
United Natural Foods Inc. UNFI Food Distributors 219.9%
Cross Country Healthcare Inc. CCRN Personnel Services 218.2%
Chico’s FAS Inc. CHS Apparel, Footwear Retail 217.0%
Matador Resources Co. MTDR Oil & Gas Production 216.4%
Signet Jewelers Ltd. SIG Specialty Stores 215.4%
Thryv Holdings Inc. THRY Advertising, Marketing Services 204.6%
Boot Barn Holdings Inc. BOOT Apparel, Footwear Retail 189.0%
ArcBest Corp. ARCB Trucking 186.7%
Range Resources Corp. RRC Oil & Gas Production 183.7%
Perficient Inc. PRFT Personnel Services 179.8%
Ranger Oil Corp. Class A ROCC Oil & Gas Production 177.8%
Donnelley Financial Solutions Inc. DFIN Software 177.7%
Source: FactSet
Turning more to tech: Nasdaq-100

The Nadaq-100 Index includes the largest 100 non-financial stocks by market cap in the full Nasdaq Composite Index COMP. It includes Chinese companies that aren’t included in the S&P 500.

Here are the top 20 performers among the Nasdaq-100 in 2021, including Tesla:

Company Ticker Industry Total Return – 2021 through Dec. 29
Lucid Group Inc. LCID Motor Vehicles 269.3%
Fortinet Inc. FTNT Computer Communications 146.9%
Moderna Inc. MRNA Biotechnology 137.3%
Nvidia Corp. NVDA Semiconductors 130.0%
Applied Materials Inc. AMAT Industrial Machinery 87.8%
Marvell Technology Inc. MRVL Semiconductors 86.8%
Datadog Inc Class A DDOG Packaged Software 82.6%
Intuit Inc. INTU Packaged Software 71.5%
KLA Corp. KLAC Semiconductors 70.0%
Alphabet Inc. Class A GOOGL Internet Software/Services 67.4%
Atlassian Corp. PLC Class A TEAM Software 63.7%
Zscaler Inc. ZS Software 61.8%
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. AMD Semiconductors 61.7%
Palo Alto Networks Inc. PANW Computer Communications 58.6%
Broadcom Inc. AVGO Semiconductors 58.1%
O’Reilly Automotive Inc. ORLY Specialty Stores 56.5%
Lam Research Corp. LRCX Electronic Production Equipment 55.3%
Microsoft Corp. MSFT Packaged Software 55.0%
Tesla Inc TSLA Motor Vehicles 53.9%
Xilinx Inc. XLNX Semiconductors 53.8%
Source: FactSet
The Dow 30

The Dow Jones Industrial Average brought up the rear in the chart at the top of this article. Home Depot Inc. HD took the top stop in the Dow through Dec. 29, with a 57.9% return for 2021, while Walt Disney Co. DIS was the worst performer, with a 14.5% decline:

Company Ticker Industry Total Return – 2021 through Dec. 29
Home Depot Inc. HD Home Improvement Chains 57.9%
Microsoft Corp. MSFT Packaged Software 55.0%
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS Investment Banks, Brokers 49.0%
Cisco Systems Inc. CSCO Information Technology Services 47.1%
Chevron Corp. CVX Integrated Oil 47.1%
UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH Managed Health Care 46.2%
American Express Co. AXP Finance, Rental, Leasing 37.1%
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. WBA Drugstore Chains 36.0%
Apple Inc. AAPL Telecommunications Equipment 36.0%
McDonald’s Corp. MCD Restaurants 28.0%
JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM Major Banks 27.9%
Procter & Gamble Co. PG Household, Personal Care 21.0%
Nike Inc. Class B NKE Apparel, Footwear 20.2%
International Business Machines Corp. IBM Information Technology Services 16.5%
Caterpillar Inc. CAT Trucks, Construction, Farm Machinery 16.3%
Travelers Companies Inc. TRV Multi-Line Insurance 14.8%
Salesforce.com Inc. CRM Packaged Software 14.4%
Johnson & Johnson JNJ Pharmaceuticals: Major 11.8%
Coca-Cola Co. KO Beverages: Non-Alcoholic 10.9%
Dow Inc. DOW Chemicals: Specialty 7.5%
Intel Corp. INTC Semiconductors 6.7%
3M Co. MMM Industrial Conglomerates 5.3%
Merck & Co. Inc. MRK Pharmaceuticals: Major 2.2%
Amgen Inc. AMGN Biotechnology 2.1%
Walmart Inc. WMT Food Retail 0.6%
Visa Inc. Class A V Finance, Rental, Leasing 0.4%
Honeywell International Inc. HON Industrial Conglomerates -0.8%
Boeing Co. BA Aerospace & Defense -4.9%
Verizon Communications Inc. VZ Major Telecommunications -6.8%
Walt Disney Co. DIS Cable, Satellite TV -14.5%
Source: FactSet

More year-end stock-market coverage: