The best performing stocks in the S&P 500 during November 2011 were a mix of energy, homebuilding and consumer stocks and benefited due to company specific reasons as well as the huge stock market rally at the end of the month.

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The Winners
Pulte Group (NYSE:PHM) also had a spectacular monthly performance, moving 21.6% higher on the strength of smaller net losses relative to previous years. The homebuilding sector also got a lift during November from a government report that indicated strength in residential construction spending. Other reports showed an improvement in builder confidence and a rise in new home sales.

The energy sector was also well represented on the list of best performing stocks with FMC Technologies (NYSE:FTI) and EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) that were both up 19.4%.

FMC Technologies announced in November that the company completed a subsea well at a depth of 9,627 feet in the Gulf of Mexico. The well was drilled for Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A, RDS.B) and established a new depth record for the industry.

The company also added to its backlog of subsea equipment orders during the month with a $325 million contract with Chevron (NYSE:CVX) to supply equipment at the Wheatstone project in Australia.

EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) reported a solid financial report for the third quarter of 2011, beating estimates on earnings per share as well as revenue and production. The company also reported progress on its oil and gas portfolio, including the Bakken, Eagle Ford Shale and Barnett Shale Combo plays.

Estee Lauder (NYSE:EL) finished up 19% in November 2011. This performance was powered by a 23 cents per share upside earning surprise in the first quarter of fiscal 2012, along with an increase in earnings guidance for the full year.

Estee Lauder Companies also increased the company's annual dividend from 75 cents per share to $1.05, a 40% increase. This trifecta victory is a difficult feat in any environment, but especially stands out in the current climate of sluggish economic growth and uncertain consumer spending. (To know more about consumer spending, read Consumer Spending As A Market Indicator.)

The Bottom Line
While the market staged a huge rally on the final trading day of November 2011, some stocks didn't need this lift and were already heading towards a fine performance for the month. Investors might want to take some profits in these names as winners in one month can frequently end up on the worst performing list in future periods. (For additional reading, check out Forces That Move Stock Prices.)

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At the time of writing, Eric Fox did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

Tickers in this Article: EL, PHM, FTI, EOG, RDS.A, RDS.B

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