The Best And Worst Stocks For The Year

By Aryeh Katz | July 28, 2010 AAA

The final word on 2010, of course, has yet to be written, and pundits seem equally sold on whether we'll manage any gains on the year, let alone match 2009's performance. Indeed, lately sentiment has been downright abysmal. The truth, however, is in the numbers. The S&P 500 is flat on the year, up only 0.1% as measured by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY). And the Nasdaq, as measured by the Powershares QQQ Trust ETF (Nasdaq: QQQQ), has eked out a mere 1.5% gain.
That said, 10 stocks have managed a 200% climb since New Year's, and more than 25 have lost over half their value.

Here's a sampling from both ends of the win/loss spectrum:

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"Truckin', Got My Chips Cashed In..."

Wabash National Corp.
(NYSE: WNC) has gained a whopping 353% since January 1 and over 900% in the last 12 months. The company designs and manufactures truck trailers, including those of the flatbed and dropdeck variety.

For the year, Wabash has yet to post positive earnings, and it pays no dividend, but investors still appear thrilled with management's ability to raise capital and sign a number of new, lucrative sales contracts.

In late May, the company sold stock to raise $70 million in order to buy back all of the firm's outstanding preferred shares and pay down debt. (Learn more about preferred shares, see A Primer On Preferred Stocks.)

Investing In Phone Oil

Stock in IDT Corp. (NYSE: IDT) has climbed better than 288% year-to-date and nearly 700% in the last year. As far as telecoms go, no one has done better. The iShares Dow Jones US Telecom ETF (NYSE: IYF), a proxy for the sector, is up just 2.0% for the year.

But IDT is not, strictly speaking, a telecom company. The bulk of its recent price appreciation has been due to its involvement in oil shale exploration and development in Colorado through its subsidiary, American Shale Oil Corp.

When it's not digging underground, IDT sells phone cards, VoIP, local and long-distance phone services.

Callon Petroleum (NYSE: CPE) rounds out the winners with a 275% gain since the beginning of the year. And still, the stock's P/E ratio is a mere 2.43.

Not So Great...

Stock in The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (NYSE: GAP) is off more than 77% YTD. In the last year, the company canceled its dividend in the wake of a 59.6% drop in sales.

GAP operates grocery stores under a variety of brand names.

Two healthcare companies - Medivation (Nasdaq: MDVN) and Affymax (Nasdaq: AFFY) - help pull up the rear for the year, the former down 75% and the latter 74%. Neither pays a dividend; both have negative earnings. Both are in the business of developing pharmaceuticals to treat serious diseases.

The Wrap
Though the market is roughly where it was at the start of the year, a great number of stocks have swung wildly - in both directions. According to your outlook, it might be wise to fade the big gainers and/or load up on the laggards.

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