With just several weeks to go in 2012, let's have a look at top ten S&P 500 bestperforming stocks in 2012. Though the Eurozone crisis and "not so good" economic outlook in the United States and China have squelched investor optimism, many stocks have surged this year. Some of them are simply recovering from their record lows, but others are examples of solid executions. A few of them produced such eye-popping results that analysts see little upside in the future. Some of the best performing S&P 500 stocks are housing stocks (many different bottoms were called on the housing market), a wine company, a leveraged mobile company, appliance maker, and one of the most hated banks. Suffice to say that few predicted these would be the best performing stocks in 2012, a lesson which can be applied to 2013 as well.
Here are the best stocks of 2012 year to date.
1- PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM) (NYSE:PHA): It is the highest gainer in the S&P 500 (&P Indices:.INX) Index. PutleGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM) (NYSE:PHA)'s shares are up more than 200 percent from their 52-week lows. The shares have surged 159.90 percent from January 1, 2012. The basic thesis behind gains? Housing recovery. The shares are currently trading at $16.40. Analysts expect it to jump no more than 10 percent based on the consensus price target of $18.44, but they have been wrong throughout most of 2012.
2- Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S): This year has been good particularly for Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S). After declining for several years, the troubled wireless phone player's stocks have gained 141.88 percent this year. The stock had a big jump after a big planned capital injection was announced by Softbank Corp (TYO:9984).
3- Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE:WHR) (ETR:WHR) (FRA:WHR): The consumer appliances maker has gained 115.71 percent this year. Analysts say that sales of consumer appliances are likely to increase as the housing market rebounds. Consumers have been saving money since the recession, and now they may want to replace their older appliances. Expect another 10 percent upside in future (use those predictions with caution).
5- Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC): This is one of the most surprising gains of the year. Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) was the most dismal banking stock performer in S&P 500 (&P Indices:.INX) last year. And this year, it is the best performer in the banking category (surprise, surprise). The shares are up 91.14 percent year to date to $10.57.
6- Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN) (NYSE:LEN.B): Another company to benefit from housing recovery. The homebuilder's stocks have gained 87.31 percent this year from the lows. Shares are currently trading at $36.60. The stock is trading well above analysts' consensus price target of $27.42, which has been raised throughout the rally.
7- Marathon Petroleum Corp (NYSE:MPC) (FRA:MPN): The shares are up about 82 percent year to date, and prices have more than doubled from their 52-week lows. Gasoline obtained from the cheaper mid-continent crude gives higher margins, and Marathon Petroleum Corp (NYSE: MPC) (FRA:MPN) has access to mid-continent crude.
8- Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD): The pharmaceutical company is currently trading at $74.25, up 81.41 percent year to date. It is the best performing healthcare stock in the S&P 500 Index this year.
9- Tesoro Corporation (NYSE:TSO): Another refinery to benefit heavily from higher margins. Though the stocks are up 76.21 percent to $40.88 per share, it is still far below analysts' consensus price target of $52.07, which could be a good or bad sign.
10- Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) (NYSE:STZ.B): The premium wine company has been rising steadily after what seemed like summer doldrums. Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) (NYSE:STZ.B) stocks have gained 72.96 percent to $35.75 a share this year.