stocks

The Best and Worst S&P 500 Stocks From 2020

The S&P 500 made the most of a calamitous year, gaining 16% in 2020 after recovering from a quick bear market. Here's how every component performed.

2020 is a year many of us won't want to remember. But it ultimately wasn't so bad for stocks – the S&P 500 more than recovered from its March depths, setting numerous record highs in the latter part of the year and finishing 2020 up 16.3%.

Some S&P 500 stocks did much better than others, however.

Tesla (TSLA), which didn't even join the index until late in 2020, was by far and away the index's best performer with a 743.4% gain. The company obliterated expectations for deliveries throughout the year, putting Tesla's original year-end goal of 500,000 deliveries within realistic reach.

Perhaps more importantly, in July, TSLA reported its fourth consecutive quarter of turning a profit. That helped flame speculation that the company would join the ranks of the S&P 500 stocks. Also sparking retail investor interest was the company's August announcement that it would split its stock 5-for-1.

Had it not been for Tesla's inclusion, Etsy (ETSY, +301.6% in 2020) would've been the S&P 500's top stock. The online retailer, which focuses on handmade and other artisan goods, was one of the biggest beneficiaries of a huge shift to e-commerce, with the company's revenues doubling through the first nine months of 2020.

Many of the S&P 500's worst stocks were unsurprisingly related to travel and energy, both of which were gashed in 2020. 

Carnival (CCL, -56.9% in 2020) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH, -56.5% in 2020), which were unable to operate for most of the year, were among the index's worst stocks. So was United Airlines (UAL, -50.9% in 2020), as airlines were effectively crippled too. Energy firms such as Occidental Petroleum (OXY, -56.6% in 2020) and Marathon Oil (MRO, -50.4% in 2020) were also bottom-10 components, brutalized by oil prices that at one point turned negative for the year.

You can check out the list below for a full ranking of the S&P 500's stocks based on their total return (price plus dividends). Data and tables courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Sign up for Kiplinger's FREE Investing Weekly e-letter for stock recommendations and other investing advice.

sp500sp500sp500sp500
sp500

S&P Global Market Intelligence

Most Popular

25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco
Smart Buying

25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco

Many of warehouse club Costco's store-branded Kirkland Signature items get high marks for quality and value. Check out our picks.
July 21, 2021
Warning: You May Have to Pay Back Your Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments
Tax Breaks

Warning: You May Have to Pay Back Your Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments

Unlike stimulus checks, you might have to repay your monthly child tax credit payments if you get too much money from the IRS.
July 16, 2021
Will Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments Lower Your Tax Refund or Raise Your Tax Bill?
Tax Breaks

Will Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments Lower Your Tax Refund or Raise Your Tax Bill?

Everyone loves receiving large sums of money from Uncle Sam. But people who take advance child tax payments may take a hit on next year's tax refund.
July 31, 2021

Recommended

Stock Market Today (08/03/21): Stocks Shake Off Delta Doubts, S&P 500 Tags New High
Stock Market Today

Stock Market Today (08/03/21): Stocks Shake Off Delta Doubts, S&P 500 Tags New High

The S&P 500 set yet another new all-time high Tuesday as investors refused to hit the panic button over resurgent COVID caseloads.
August 3, 2021
Stock Market Today (08/02/21): Dow Stumbles After Sprinting Out of the Blocks
Stock Market Today

Stock Market Today (08/02/21): Dow Stumbles After Sprinting Out of the Blocks

Weak economic data sent the Dow and S&P 500 to small losses on Monday, though the Nasdaq managed a marginal gain.
August 2, 2021
Can Under Armour (UAA) Turn In Another Earnings Beat?
stocks

Can Under Armour (UAA) Turn In Another Earnings Beat?

Our preview of the upcoming week's earnings reports includes Under Armour (UAA) and Etsy (ETSY).
August 2, 2021
Stock Market Today (7/30/21): Stocks Retreat After Amazon Revenue Miss
Stock Market Today

Stock Market Today (7/30/21): Stocks Retreat After Amazon Revenue Miss

The major indexes all logged solid July gains, though, with the S&P 500 bringing its monthly win streak to six.
July 30, 2021