25 Stocks to Target During Thanksgiving Week

Plus, 25 stocks to avoid during the holiday-shortened week next week

Senior Quantitative Analyst
Nov 18, 2020 at 8:00 AM
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Thanksgiving 2020 is next week. It’s been quite a year, so who knows what to expect. Regardless of the news cycle, it is a unique three and a half day trading week with markets closed on Thursday and part of Friday. This week, I look at how stocks have done in the past during the week of Thanksgiving. I’ll also list some sectors and stocks that have stood out over the holiday in recent years. 

Thanksgiving Week

Overall, Thanksgiving week has tended to be bullish. In the past 50 years, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) has gained, on average, 0.59% during the week, with 70% of the returns positive. Other weeks average a gain of 0.16% -- positive 56% of the time.

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The tables below break down Thanksgiving week by day. Historically, the first couple days of the week have seen their struggles. Monday of Thanksgiving week has averaged a small gain -- albeit which is better than other Mondays that have averaged a loss -- but over half the Thanksgiving week Mondays have been negative. Tuesday of next week has averaged a small loss, despite a higher percentage of the returns being positive. The weekly outperformance has come from the day before Thanksgiving and the day after. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving has been positive 78% of the time, averaging a gain of 0.3%. The day after Thanksgiving has averaged a 0.2% return over the past 50 years and has been positive 66% of the time.

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Notable Sectors

For the rest of the analysis, I’m considering current S&P 500 stocks over the past ten years. The table below lists the top ten sectors by average return during the week of Thanksgiving. Those top three sectors -- personal goods, travel & leisure, and general retailers -- all make a lot of sense as we head into the holiday shopping season. Those three sectors, however, will be largely affected by COVID-related news.

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The table below shows the worst sectors during the turkey holiday. Oil stocks, utilities and banking stocks make up a large portion of the list. If you were considering shorting one of these sectors or selling stocks from one of these sectors, now might be the time.

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Below is a list of individual S&P 500 stocks that have performed the best during the week of Thanksgiving over the past ten years. It’s sorted first by percent positive and then by average returns. A couple of online retailers, eBay (EBAY) and Amazon (AMZN), are near the top of the list along with a couple airlines, Delta (DAL) and United Airlines (UAL).

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Finally, here is the list of stocks which have performed the worst during Thanksgiving week over the past ten years. Oil and utilities dominate this list, which isn’t surprising given the table above of worst performing sectors.

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