stocks

The 25 Best-Performing Stocks of 2021

The stock market's top performers of 2021 are a timeline of sorts, made up of meme stocks, oil plays and other major themes from across the year.

The best stocks of 2021 reflected pretty much all of the market's major themes from throughout the year. 

From the emergence of meme stocks to a huge rebound in oil prices to the continuing saga of COVID-19 and the recovery trade, 2021's top stocks all rode a wave bigger than themselves. (Just scroll down to the table below, which lists the Russell 1000 index's top performing stocks on a price basis for the year-to-date through Dec. 30.)

The biggest winner? GameStop (GME, $155.33), which soared to ridiculous heights thanks to sometimes unhinged chatter on social media platforms, most notably Reddit's r/wallstreetbets (WSB) subreddit

As you might have heard, volatility in GameStop was insane. At one point in January, GME stock was sitting on a year-to-date gain of 1,740%. Shares have since cooled off and then some, tanking about 23% in the past month alone. Yet GameStop still leads the best stocks from the Russell 1000 with a price performance of +725% for 2021.

As noted above, the energy sector was a big winner this year, and we have the stocks to prove it. Devon Energy (DVN, $43.67), Continental Resources (CLR, $44.61), and Marathon Oil (MRO, $16.35) all cracked the top 10. 

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Meanwhile, an accelerating global economic recovery was good for cyclical stocks. For example, in the highly economically sensitive materials sector, shares in Alcoa (AA, $59.21), Olin (OLN, $57.41) and Nucor (NUE, $113.85) all more than doubled this year. 

And then, of course, there's the pandemic. True, COVID-19 introduced extreme bouts of volatility at times, but it also helped Moderna (MRNA, $251.60) stock rise more than 140%. 

Although chances are slim that this year's winners will repeat as the best stocks to buy for 2022, investors shouldn't automatically count them out as potential market beaters. They would do well, however, to take a closer look at analysts' top stock picks for the new year

But for 2021, at least, the stocks listed below reigned supreme:

A table of the best Russell 1000 stocks of 2021

S&P Global Market Intelligence

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