There are a lot of ways to measure the success of a stock. Some take year-over-year returns, others are interested in longer-term records going back five to 10 years. Still others are short-term traders and only want to know what a company's shares have accomplished in the last three months - or last three days, or hours!

From the Bottom Up
Perhaps the fairest way to measure what a stock has done is to base it on a common starting point vis-à-vis other shares, that is, to measure the gain from a date specific market bottom.


We had an opportunity this year to take such a reading. The major market indexes bottomed on or around March 9 of this year and have all headed higher since then. Measuring a company's share performance since that date, therefore, makes sense. Below we list a number of the heaviest hitting stocks in the S&P 500 since those lows were put in. (Learn more about the S&P 500 and other indexes, see: A Market By Any Other Name.)

A Financial Heads the List
Genworth Financial Inc. (NYSE:GNW) is a U.S.-based insurance outfit with operations in 25 countries around the world. The company's stock is up over 1100% since the March 9 lows were set. Genworth has a market capitalization of nearly $5.5 billion.

Office Depot Inc. (NYSE:ODP) is another standout performer since the lows, having returned 900% to investors since that date. As the name suggests, Office Depot is a supplier of all things and services office related.

Another financial with gargantuan returns is Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ:FITB), a retail bank with operations focused in the U.S. Southeast and Midwest regions. FITB stock has risen 600% since the S&P bottomed on March 9.

Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI) is a media company that focuses on news gathering and operates nearly 1000 newspapers, including USA Today. Gannett stock is up better than 500% since the lows.

Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE:WYN) operates in the hospitality business, providing hotel accommodation and "vacation ownership' opportunities globally. Since the bottom was recorded for the S&P 500 in March, Wyndham is up over 600%. WYN has a market cap of $3.6 billion.

The final star performer from the March lows is paper giant International Paper (NYSE:IP). IP has risen 500% since then.

The Wrap
Taken from a common starting point, the picture becomes pretty clear. The above stocks simply beat the rest of the S&P 500 where it really counts: capital appreciation.

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