With that said, I am always curious to see what stocks held up over the long run... folks, no matter what happens (short of 8%+ rally here in the next 3 days) we are projecting the worst year in the markets at least since the early 1930s and perhaps longer than that. So if you are still alive and kicking congrats. The best tuition for the stock market is... the stock market. Textbooks won't help you - living breathing and being in the market is the only way to learn. (or reading super shrewd bloggers) ;) To say this year was a learning experience for all involved is an understatement. But that's what makes the market every fascinating - always new things to learn.
To that end, I am presenting to you 52 stocks that returned at least 15% in 2008. That is quite a pathetic total, but as I said above - we just came off the worst year in (hopefully) all of our lifetimes. What has been even more amazing has been the compare and contrast of the "half years" of 2008 - I ran a similar list in May [May 26: Best Performing Stocks Year to Date] There were 122 stocks that had gained at least 25% with a market capitalization of $2 Billion or more. After a quick scan of THAT list, I don't think a single one ended the year +15% - it was very heavily tilted to commodities which is where I, along with apparently 90% of the hedge fund community, was hiding for the first 6 months of 2008. Frankly that list on May 26th, was the list to short in the 2nd half of the year.
I had to bring down the minimum market capitalization to $750 million just to find 52 names who gained 15% - much of that is so many stocks have lost so much of their market cap; and so many of our US listed companies had negative years. I don't have the data in front of me but there was some staggering analysis on how many stocks in America lost 50%+ in 2008; a massive percentage of all listed shares. This will be a year to be discussed for generations, and I expect 2009 to be quite an interesting one as well.
The criteria for this list are
- Market capitalization $750 Million+
- Average trading volume 100K+
- Stock price $10+
- Return of 15%+
The top of the list is dominated by the one place I felt relatively "safe" (it's all relative) in latter 2008: healthcare - we own a few of the big winners but certainly did not catch all of those huge moves. But we love relative strength and these are the type of charts we want to hang out in with our larger exposures. In green are the names we own, and in purple are names we once owned or have discussed in the blog. Frankly, outside of Panera Bread (PNRA), Genentech (DNA), Amgen (AMGN), H&R Block (HRB) and Walmart (WMT) I don't see many names the casual individual stock market investor would know about or recognize.
On my own "doh!" list is both Thoratec (THOR) and Allegiant Travel (ALGT) - the former was a major holding of ours that we sold out of after a product scare [Oct 26: Closing Thoratec First Thing Tomorrow] and the stock has simply raced up and up; we've been waiting for a pullback the past three weeks to get back in - but it never comes. The latter is a small airline that is insanely profitable (even at oil $140!) and should be much more so with oil anywhere near these levels; despite a consumer recession. I've been stalking this name for many months - since the upper $20s in fact, but have been unable to pull the trigger thinking surely oil will reverse at some point and all airline stocks will be trashed (they have been the anti oil trade) - it is now nearing $50.
Quality Systems (QSII) is a "down low" Obama play - I've owned this name in the past, basically they do electronic medical records which is part of Obamamania - so it's really no different then jumping head first into infrastructure stocks based on what President Elect Midas will do. Frankly, this one has been off my radar for many years and when I though of "thesis" stocks in medical records I ran to look at Cerner (CERN) which has done little since Obama was elected. Correct thesis, wrong horse - I should of thought of QSII.
Outside of that, no large scale themes outside of "trade down" retailers - i.e. dollar stores and Ross; and re-education (adult education) stocks which have been a big theme late in the year as the unemployed ranks rise. I shall continue to focus on healthcare in 2009, especially the niche high growth names I focus on regardless of sector - and names that generate large amounts of revenue from the US government. These are the revenue streams I have the most amount of confidence in not being threatened. Outside of that, I do expect hedge funds and institutions to run up "early cycle" stocks in various iterations throughout 2009 on repeated "false starts" of the coming (ahem) recovery in 6 months. So we'll be there too, taking advantage of Kool Aid.
|Symbol||Company Name||% Price|
|EBS||Emergent BioSolutions Inc||382.0|
|VRX||Valeant Pharmaceuticals Int'l||84.4|
|RGLD||Royal Gold Inc||59.9|
|DLTR||Dollar Tree Inc||59.2|
|ALGT||Allegiant Travel Co||45.0|
|CFFN||Capitol Federal Financial||44.3|
|GTIV||Gentiva Health Services Inc||41.8|
|RNT||Aaron Rents Inc||41.0|
|FFIN||First Financial Bankshares Inc||40.1|
|CMP||Compass Minerals International Inc||39.6|
|MYGN||Myriad Genetics Inc||39.4|
|FBP||First BanCorp (Puerto Rico)||38.6|
|QSII||Quality Systems Inc||38.2|
|PNRA||Panera Bread Co||37.7|
|ORH||Odyssey Re Holdings Corp||37.0|
|SQM||Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile||32.2|
|FDO||Family Dollar Stores Inc||30.7|
|LG||Laclede Group Inc||29.3|
|CRK||Comstock Resources Inc||25.1|
|FNFG||First Niagara Financial Group Inc||24.3|
|VRTX||Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc||23.7|
|HRB||H&R Block Inc||23.1|
|INT||World Fuel Services Corp||23.0|
|CWT||California Water Service Group||20.8|
|STBA||S&T Bancorp Inc||19.7|
|SF||Stifel Financial Corp||18.8|
|EMS||Emergency Medical Services Corp||18.7|
|STRA||Strayer Education Inc||17.8|
|ROH||Rohm and Haas Co||17.7|
|FNF||Fidelity National Financial Inc||16.4|
|EW||Edwards Lifesciences Corp||16.1|
|PNY||Piedmont Natural Gas Inc||16.1|
|MANT||ManTech International Corp||16.1|
|CBST||Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc||16.1|
|UMBF||UMB Financial Corp||16.0|
|WMT||Wal-Mart Stores Inc||15.9|
|ROST||Ross Stores Inc||15.7|
|GOLD||Randgold Resources ADR||15.6|
|DCM||NTT DoComo Sponsored ADR||15.4|
|BNCL||Beneficial Mutual Bancorp Inc||15.4|
|NFS||Nationwide Financial Services Inc||15.3|