Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the oil price war, and the enormous protests against police brutality in the United States, this has been an extremely eventful year. While the S&P 500 had fallen by as much as 30% year to date in March, it has recovered much of the ground it lost. As of June 2, its year-to-date total return stands at just under 4%. Here are the top 10 stocks by year-to-date total return in the S&P 500 index as of June 2, 2020.

Top 10 S&P 500 Companies by Year-to-Date Total Return
Company Name (Ticker) Year-to-Date Total Return (%)
Carrier Global Corp. (CARR) 81.8%
DexCom Inc. (DXCM) 73.1%
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (REGN) 59.7%
NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) 49.8%
NortonLifeLock Inc. (NLOK) 45.5%
PayPal Holdings Inc. (PYPL) 42.9%
West Pharmaceutical Services Inc. (WST) 41.4%
Newmont Corp. (NEM) 39.6%
MarketAxess Holdings Inc. (MKTX) 37.4%
ServiceNow Inc. (NOW) 35.8%
S&P 500 Index -3.8%

Source: Ycharts

Many of the stocks in the top 10 have likely benefited from the pandemic and resultant lockdown. Biotech firm Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has made some promising steps towards developing an antibody treatment for the virus. West Pharmaceutical Services manufactures drug-delivery systems, which are important when efforts are being poured into mass-producing a vaccine. Others have benefited from the volatility the pandemic has caused, such as gold miner Newmont. That aforementioned volatility has substantially driven up gold prices. Still others have benefited from the quarantine caused by the pandemic, with ServiceNow, a cloud services firm specializing in workflow apps, benefiting from the boom in working from home.

The top performer, however, has little to do with current events and everything to do with big-picture trends. HVAC manufacturer Carrier Global was spun off from United Technologies Corp. along with Otis Elevators on April 3, 2020 when UTC merged with Raytheon to form Raytheon Technologies Corp. Carrier Global benefits enormously from two long-term trends that have helped send its stock up enormously. The first is climate change, which has increased the demand for air conditioning. Even in the most optimistic climate change scenarios, the demand for air conditioning will be substantially higher in the 21st century than in the 20th. The second is the trend in recent decades away from industrial conglomerates, seen most prominently in the decline in prominence of General Electric Co. Carrier, spun-off from UTC, seems to be following in the footsteps of many spin-offs from industrial conglomerates with strong business tailwinds, and gaining in valuation.