One of the best performing stock market sectors this year is the consumer discretionaries. And it's no surprise, really, that at this point in the recovery - after the financial sector has stabilized, housing has strengthened, and the jobs and sentiment outlook is becoming more positive - that consumers would begin considering non-essential purchases. It's evident in everything from auto sale numbers to Caribbean cruises, from diamond sales to Vegas vacancy rates: wallets are opening again for the first time since the downturn began in 2007.

It's also no surprise, therefore, that of the seven stocks on the Russell 3000 universe of stocks that are up over 100% since the New Year, four of them hail from the consumer discretionary sector. Here are those four companies with relevant fundamental measures included.

IN PICTURES: Learn To Invest In 10 Steps

Smokin' Returns
The best performing stock in the Russell 3000 this year is Star Scientific Inc. (Nasdaq:CIGX), a manufacturer of smoking cessation products and other items that aid in the reduction of toxins in tobacco-related products. Star Scientific's stock is up over 300% year-to-date, as compared to the S&P 500's 5% rise, as measured by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY).

CIGX shares have no dividend and no price/earnings ratio at present, as the company is currently reporting negative earnings.

Ruth's Hospitality Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:RUTH) shares are up better than 150% since the year began and trade with a P/E that appears a stretch at almost 50. As compared to the broader consumer discretionary sector, RUTH has significantly outperformed. The sector, as represented by the Consumer Discretionary SPDR ETF (NYSE:XLY), has turned in an impressive showing, offering investors a solid 11%. But that's a far cry from what investors in RUTH would have taken in over the same time frame.

Ruth's Hospitality is in the upscale restaurant business with operations that span the globe. The shares pay no dividend.

Fashionable Financial Returns
Quiksilver, Inc. (NYSE:ZQK) is in the sports apparel business, with marketing channels that distribute to more than 90 countries worldwide. Since the year began, the company's stock has risen by more than 130%. The shares offer no dividend and trade without a P/E due to negative current earnings.

The Wrap
Consumer discretionary stocks dominate the leader board of Russell 3000 stocks for the year. Will the sector lead the field in 2010 like the financials did in 2009? The stocks we've examined here certainly suggest it. (To learn more, see Using Consumer Spending As A Market Indicator.)

Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!

Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Time to Bring Active Back into a Portfolio?

    While stocks have rallied since the economic recovery in 2009, many active portfolio managers have struggled to deliver investor returns in excess.
  2. Chart Advisor

    Now Could Be The Time To Buy IPOs

    There has been lots of hype around the IPO market lately. We'll take a look at whether now is the time to buy.
  3. Stock Analysis

    Allstate: How Being Boring Earns it Billions (ALL)

    A summary of what Allstate Insurance sells and whom it sells it to including recent mergers and acquisitions that have helped boost its bottom line.
  4. Chart Advisor

    Copper Continues Its Descent

    Copper prices have been under pressure lately and based on these charts it doesn't seem that it will reverse any time soon.
  5. Options & Futures

    Cyclical Versus Non-Cyclical Stocks

    Investing during an economic downturn simply means changing your focus. Discover the benefits of defensive stocks.
  6. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Buying Vanguard Mutual Funds Vs. ETFs

    Learn about the differences between Vanguard's mutual fund and ETF products, and discover which may be more appropriate for investors.
  7. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETFs Vs. Mutual Funds: Choosing For Your Retirement

    Learn about the difference between using mutual funds versus ETFs for retirement, including which investment strategies and goals are best served by each.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    How to Reinvest Dividends from ETFs

    Learn about reinvesting ETF dividends, including the benefits and drawbacks of dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs) and manual reinvestment.
  9. Investing Basics

    How to Deduct Your Stock Losses

    Held onto a stock for too long? Selling at a loss is never ideal, but it is possible to minimize the damage. Here's how.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Best 3 Vanguard Funds that Track the Top 500 Companies

    Discover the three Vanguard funds tracking the S&P 500 Index, and learn about the characteristics and historical statistics of these funds.
  1. Should mutual funds be subject to more regulation?

    Mutual funds, when compared to other types of pooled investments such as hedge funds, have very strict regulations. In fact, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do ETFs pay capital gains?

    Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) can generate capital gains that are transferred to shareholders, typically once a year, triggering ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do real estate hedge funds work?

    A hedge fund is a type of investment vehicle and business structure that aggregates capital from multiple investors and invests ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Are Vanguard ETFs commission-free?

    While some Vanguard exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are available commission-free from third-party brokers, a large portion ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Do Vanguard ETFs require a minimum investment?

    Vanguard completely waives any U.S. dollar minimum amounts to buy its exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and the minimum ETF investment ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Can mutual fund expense ratios be negative?

    Mutual fund expense ratios cannot be negative. An expense ratio is the sum total of all fees charged by an asset management ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center