The Best and Worst Stocks Since the February Top

Pharmaceutical companies, Amazon and Walmart top the list of best performers

Senior Quantitative Analyst
Apr 22, 2020 at 7:00 AM
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It's now been over two months since the S&P 500 Index (SPX) hit its last all-time high, and to say stocks have been on a wild ride ever since is an understatement. This week, however, I’m focusing on individual stocks. Below, I listed the best and worst stocks by their return since that February top, as well as a few other noteworthy measures.

Best & Worst Stocks

This first table shows all SPX stocks that have gained at least 10% since February 19 (as of Monday’s close). Most of these make sense given the recent coronavirus outbreak. Pharmaceuticals are prominent on the list. Amazon.com (AMZN) and Walmart (WMT) have seen significant gains as two of the main retailers who have continued operations via digital sales while many competitors have shut their brick and mortar doors.

Best SPX 500 Stocks Since Feb 19

The next table shows all stocks that have declined by at least 60%. Unsurprisingly, cruise companies and airlines have been hit especially hard. Oil stocks also dominate this list, decimated not only by the coronavirus pandemic but also by last month's price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Worst SPX 500 Stocks Since Feb 19

Best Stocks Going by Positive Days

When you’re holding a stock, the only thing that matters is the overall stock return. In this table, however, I rank the SPX stocks by the percentage of positive days since the February 19 top. Perhaps it’s a signal of underlying strength in the stock or resilient buying power. Or maybe I just find it interesting. For a frame of reference, the SPX has been up 40.5% of the days since the last all-time high. The list below shows every stock that has been up 55% of the days or more.

The general retailing sector has four names, which is more than any other sector on the 16-stock list. Notably missing, however, are Amazon and Walmart even though they’re on the list for best returns since the market top.

SPX Stocks Most Positive Days Since Feb 19

And below, I have the stocks with the fewest number of positive days since the decline. These are stocks where only a third of the days or less have been positive since February 19. Nothing is too surprising in the table. All the stocks have significantly underperformed the SPX.

SPX Stocks Least Positive Days Since Feb 19

Best Stocks Going by Standard Deviation

Another metric I looked at is the standard deviation of daily returns, which measures stocks that have tended to make big or small daily moves since the crisis. The standard deviation of daily returns for the SPX has been 4.6%. This first table shows the most volatile stocks by this measure. Not surprisingly, travel stocks and oil stocks are most prominent; two sectors with the most uncertainty lately. Stocks tend to fall fast and rise slowly, so it’s not surprising the entire list is comprised of big-time underperformers.

SPX Highest DV Feb

Finally, here are the stocks that have been moving the least on a day-to-day basis. Investors put off by the recent volatility who want a bit more stability could look into these stocks.

SPX Lowest DV Feb

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