Among the investment community, the Standard & Poors 500 Index (S&P 500) is the most common benchmark representing the stock market as a whole. While the majority of its component holdings are not as "blue chip" or well known as the components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), the S&P 500 is more diversified. This makes S&P 500 index funds a favorite among passive ETF investors (To learn more, see Index Investing.)
In Pictures: Why Companies Care About Stock Price

Companies included in the index are selected by the S&P Index Committee, a team of analysts and economists at Standard & Poor's. The S&P 500 is a market value weighted index, in which each stock's weight in the index is proportionate to its market value.

However, in terms of performance, it is rarely the biggest components of the index (like Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) or Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) that are the best performers. While these giants do not experience significant volatility, they do not tend to be the high-flyers.

Nonetheless, there are a number of S&P 500 members that have soared beyond the rest so far this year.

Company Market Cap (Billions) YTD % Gain
Cummins (NYSE:CMI) 18.5B +104.7%
Wynn Resorts (Nasdaq:WYNN) 12.6B +75.8%
Akamai Technologies (Nasdaq:AKAM) 8.0B +74.4%
Lexmark International (NYSE:LXK) 3.5B +70.5%
Zions Bancorporation (Nasdaq:ZION) 3.8B +70.2%
Family Dollar Stores (NYSE:FDO) 6.1B +67.8%

Bottom Line
The S&P 500 has only notched gains of about 55 so far this year, so it's a great idea to take a look at the individual stocks that are boosting this index. These stocks have achieved gains of more than 60%, and are well worth an in-depth look.

Related Articles
  1. Economics

    India: Why it Might Pay to Be Bullish Right Now

    Many investors are bullish on India for all the right reasons. Does it present an investing opportunity?
  2. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Altria's Return on Equity (ROE) (MO)

    Learn about Altria Group's return on equity (ROE) and analyze net profit margin, asset turnover and financial leverage to determine what is causing its high ROE.
  3. Investing Basics

    Building My Portfolio with BlackRock ETFs and Mutual Funds (ITOT, IXUS)

    Find out how to construct the ideal investment portfolio utilizing BlackRock's tools, resources and its popular low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
  4. Investing News

    Icahn's Bet on Cheniere Energy: Should You Follow?

    Investing legend Carl Icahn continues to lose money on Cheniere Energy, but he's increasing his stake. Should you follow his lead?
  5. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Google's Return on Equity (ROE) (GOOGL)

    Learn about Alphabet's return on equity. How has its ROE changed over time, how does it compare to its peers and what factors are driving ROE for the company?
  6. Investing News

    Is Buffett's Bet on Oil Right for You? (XOM, PSX)

    Oil stocks are getting trounced, but Warren Buffett still likes one of them. Should you follow the leader?
  7. Investing

    3 Things About International Investing and Currency

    As world monetary policy continues to diverge rocking bottom on interest rates while the Fed raises them, expect currencies to continue their bumpy ride.
  8. Investing News

    Chipotle Served with Criminal Probe

    Chipotle's beat muted expectations and got a clear bill from the CDC, but it now appears that an investigation into its E.coli breakout has expanded.
  9. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Sprint Corp's Return on Equity (ROE) (S)

    Learn about Sprint's return on equity. Find out why its ROE is negative and how asset turnover and financial leverage impact ROE relative to Sprint's peers.
  10. Stock Analysis

    Why Alphabet is the Best of the 'FANGs' for 2016

    Alphabet just impressed the street, but is it the best FANG stock?
RELATED FAQS
  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 >>
COMPANIES IN THIS ARTICLE
Trading Center