MANY HAPPY RETURNS?
Benefiting from its move to a cloud-centric business model, Microsoft's stock has performed like a rock star this year. In fact, the New York Times recently reported that the company was now worth as much as Apple, more than $850 billion, thanks to a stock price that had climbed more than 40 percent during the past 12 months. That's no small feat. And under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella, who helped move Microsoft more aggressively into the cloud, the company remains poised to continue its dynamic performance. Like others, the tech giant's stock has receded recently but was still up more than 20 percent year to date.
Salesforce may not be a household name like Microsoft, but that's no reason to sniff at this San Francisco company's solid performance. Best known as a customer relationship management cloud-based platform company, Salesforce has achieved a year-to-date gain in share price of some 28 percent. During the first quarter of 2018, the company posted a 25 percent increase in revenue compared to the previous year while also achieving a 79 percent increase in adjusted earnings per share. With all of this good news, the 2019 outlook for Salesforce is solid.
It's hardly any secret that Amazon and Jeff Bezos are doing exceedingly well. Amazon's Cyber Monday this year was the best shopping day in the company's history. The shopping event did better than Black Friday and even Amazon's own annual sales event, Prime Day. The e-commerce giant often blamed for the bricks-and-mortar retail apocalypse has witnessed a gain of nearly 28 percent in its stock value year to date. "Major tech stocks started the year on a tear and rallied through most of the year," says Riley Adams, senior financial analyst for Entergy and creator of the personal finance site Young and the Invested. "These stocks have thrived due to their rapid growth and maturation and haven't been bogged down by other hiccups seen in the markets during this bull market. Their businesses have largely been insulated from any economic uncertainties and continued their growth at unabated rates."
ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES
Some of the best performing stocks this year, were among the worst performing stocks of last year, says Chris Tuck, a certified financial planner with SJK Wealth Management. Advanced Micro Devices is just one example of that. The stock is up 76 percent year to date and last year was down 7 percent. The California semiconductor company, which develops computer processors for business and consumer markets, has apparently been stealing large chunks of market share from competitor Intel and by some accounts is on track to keep doing that in 2019.
Under Armour is another example of a stock that performed very poorly just one year ago, but made a rebound in 2018, says Tuck, of SJK Wealth Management. The stock is up about 25 percent year to date, but it finished 2017 down about 50 percent, says Tuck. "This is just another confirmation that buying this year's dogs can be next year's darlings."
One of the country's most well-known genetics companies, Illumina reported its highest sales ever for its genomic-sequencing systems this year. It followed-up that feat by purchasing its most significant competitor, Pacific Biosciences, the very next month. The company also kept Wall Street excited by announcing such developments as the launch of a new desktop DNA sequencing system and several new collaborations in oncology diagnostics. Its stock price is up a truly impressive 38 percent year to date.
OMEGA HEALTHCARE INVESTORS
The maker of TurboTax and QuickBooks Online (QBO), Intuit's revenue and operating income have been on a steady climb, increasing by double-digit rates over last year. At the same time QBO subscribers are also soaring upward, with a 45 percent jump year over year in the most recent quarter. Moral of the story? Inuit's stock is up by about 24 percent.
In 2017, Ottawa-based Shopify posted a staggering 73 percent year-over-year increase in its revenue. And in 2018, the Canadian e-commerce company has not disappointed, either. First-quarter revenue was up 68 percent, far higher than its own internal projections. Company executives said during the first quarter of this year that they are expecting revenue for 2018 to be about $1 billion, all of which has pushed shares up nearly 32 percent year to date.
There's no stopping Netflix, a company that issued a blockbuster third-quarter earnings report in 2018, the highlights of which included revenue of $4 billion and 6.96 million subscriber additions. The company has Wall Street investors salivating. Shares soared as much as 15 percent after the earnings report. Its stock price is currently up nearly 39 percent over a year ago.
Operator of acute-care hospitals and surgical centers, HCA Healthcare includes 179 hospitals and 120 surgical centers. In 2018, the company increased its share price by nearly 40 percent. As of the third-quarter, its revenues had increased 7.1 percent, to $11.45 billion. Facility admissions are also in growth mode this year, up by about 3 percent.
CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL
Chipotle's rebound from the E. coli scandals of year's past appears to be proceeding steadily. The price of its stock is up nearly 48 percent year-to-date, while its revenue and earnings have surpassed expectations. Sales during the first six months of the year were up 7.9 percent, which market watchers say is tied to price increases and new restaurant openings. The food chain's solid performance is expected to continue in 2019.
There have been plenty of naysayers who projected Twitter would go the way of the dinosaurs in the face of competition from Instagram and other social media platforms. Twitter, however, is proving those critics wrong. This year, the company reported fourth-quarter results from the previous year that revealed its first profit. During the first-quarter of 2018, Twitter's success story continued with revenue increases of 21 percent year over year. Take that, Instagram. Its stock is up more than 37 percent year to date.
Square's growth accelerated for three quarters in a row in 2018, and its stock is currently up more than 70 percent year to date. The San Francisco-based financial services company has been growing phenomenally this year. The company also continues to launch new products, including a new platform for restaurants and has a track record of outperforming Wall Street earnings forecasts.
THE TRADE DESK
It's hard to beat a stock that's up more than 165 percent. No, that's not a typo, The Trade Desk has been crushing analyst's predictions every quarter this year and breaking its own records. A digital advertising platform company, The Trade Desk has showcased incredible momentum in 2018. It's third quarter financial results broke previous revenue records (again). The company reported $118 million in revenue, a 50 percent increase year-over-year, while net income was a record $20.3 million. Some analysts have described The Trade Desk as their top stock buy.
Compared to The Trade Desk's more than 165 percent increase in stock value, Teladoc's 39 percent growth almost seems paltry. But shifting back to reality, by any measure 39 percent is a good performance. A global leader in virtual care, Teladoc's second-quarter revenue of $94.6 million was an increase of 112 percent over the previous year. Its visits from paid members also continue to skyrocket, increasing to 436,000 for the second quarter of 2018, up from 309,000 one year earlier.
Though Icon may not exactly be a household name, it has experienced an incredibly solid performance in 2018 (reporting record net business wins of $605 million during the third-quarter alone) and 2019 looks equally promising. Some analysts are projecting the medical research company will increase earnings per share by 12 percent in the coming year, while revenue is expected to head upward about 8 percent. The contract research organization helps drug makers coordinate and conduct clinical trials required for regulatory approval in the U.S., Europe and other markets. In other words, a service that is and will continue to be, in hot demand. Its stock is up nearly 17 percent year to date.
Once part of Pfizer, this market leading animal medicine maker is doing just fine on its own. The company reported revenue of $1.5 billion for the third quarter of 2018, an increase of 10 percent compared with the third quarter of 2017. Its stock, meanwhile, is up nearly 16 percent this year. Millennials are apparently creating something of a "bull market" in household pets, which has been good news for Zoetis.