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

11 Good Reasons to Cancel Amazon Prime
Budgeting

11 Good Reasons to Cancel Amazon Prime

You probably aren't using most of the perks tucked into that $119 annual fee -- which you don't need to pay to get the free Amazon shipping you crave.
April 13, 2021
Who Should Return Their Third Stimulus Check to the IRS?
Coronavirus and Your Money

Who Should Return Their Third Stimulus Check to the IRS?

Some people who receive a third stimulus check are required to send it back to the IRS. Others can return it voluntarily.
April 12, 2021
2021 Child Tax Credit Calculator
Tax Breaks

2021 Child Tax Credit Calculator

See how much money you'll get in advance under the new child tax credit rules for 2021.
April 14, 2021

Recommended

Stock Market Today 4/14/21: Strong Start to Earnings Season Sends Dow Higher
Stock Market Today

Stock Market Today 4/14/21: Strong Start to Earnings Season Sends Dow Higher

Goldman Sachs' (GS) record Q1 and a strong day for Chevron (CVX) helped keep the Dow in positive territory on an otherwise choppy Wednesday.
April 14, 2021
Buy Cruise Line Stocks? The Pros Aren't So Sure
stocks

Buy Cruise Line Stocks? The Pros Aren't So Sure

Cruise line stocks have performed well so far in 2021, but analysts are still sitting on the sidelines amid cloudy reopening plans. 
April 14, 2021
Stock Market Today 4/13/21: Nasdaq Climbs, Dow Slips After J&J Vaccine Stumble 
Stock Market Today

Stock Market Today 4/13/21: Nasdaq Climbs, Dow Slips After J&J Vaccine Stumble 

U.S. agencies recommended a pause in use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine amid rare instances of a blood clotting disorder, rattling the recover…
April 13, 2021
Stock Market Today 4/12/21: Stocks Sag on Sleepy Monday
Stock Market Today

Stock Market Today 4/12/21: Stocks Sag on Sleepy Monday

The Dow declined on a low-volume Monday, but the start of Q1 earnings season and the Coinbase offering should spice things up later this week.
April 12, 2021