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Best-performing stocks: February 2024

As of February 01, 2024

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is one of the most highly followed stock indexes in the world, and it contains hundreds of America’s top companies. The index has a strong track record of returns – averaging about 10 percent annually over long periods. Investors regularly keep an eye on the index and the top stocks within it as a bellwether for the market and economy as a whole. While a list of top-performing stocks can’t guarantee future success, certain stocks like Amazon and Apple, for instance, may offer insights into potential future outperformers. Below are the best-performing stocks in the S&P 500 in 2024.

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Best S&P 500 stocks as of February 2024

Company and ticker symbol Performance in 2024
Data as of Jan. 31, 2024
Netflix (NFLX) 15.9%
W.R. Berkley (WRB) 15.8%
Catalent (CTLT) 14.9%
Palo Alto Networks (PANW) 14.8%
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) 13.8%
HCA Healthcare (HCA) 12.6%
Verizon (VZ) 12.3%
IBM (IBM) 12.3%

Of course, not even the great stocks can do well all the time, so it can be useful to keep an eye on some of the stocks that have been underperforming. That’s because this year’s underperformers can become next year’s outperformers, and if you find a once-stellar stock among the dogs, it may be ripe for a bargain purchase.

Below are the worst-performing S&P 500 stocks in 2024.

Worst-performing S&P 500 stocks as of February 2024

Company and ticker symbol Performance in 2024
Data as of Jan. 31, 2024
Tesla (TSLA) -24.6%
Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) -23.0%
MarketAxess (MKTX) -23.0%
United Rentals (URI) -22.3%
Enphase Energy (ENPH) -21.2%

Widely held stocks

Here’s how some of the most widely held stocks in the S&P 500 have performed.

Company and ticker symbol Performance in 2024
Data as of Jan. 31, 2024
Apple (AAPL) -4.2%
Microsoft (MSFT) 5.7%
Alphabet (GOOGL) 0.3%
Amazon (AMZN) 2.1%
Tesla (TSLA) -24.6%

Are these the best stocks to invest in right now?

While these hot stocks have performed well recently, that’s in the past now. As an investor you’ll need to determine whether the stocks are likely to go up in the future, if you want to buy them. That requires a lot of work to understand the company, the industry, its competitive situation as well as analyzing the company’s statements such as its balance sheet. That’s a lot of work.

Sure, these stocks may continue to go up for a while (or not), but doing this research allows you to confidently judge whether to invest. Inevitably, even the best stocks go down sometimes, so you’ll need your knowledge to decide whether to stick with the company or sell.

If you invest only in the stocks that have performed well recently – without that background knowledge – you’re likely to wind up buying high and selling low. You’ll tend to chase whatever is hot at the moment, but then sell once it cools off.

How to invest in the best stocks

But what if you don’t want to do that amount of work yet enjoy the attractive return of stocks? Well, any investor can participate, even with very little knowledge. It’s easy for an investor of any skill level to purchase a fund based on the S&P 500 index. The fund owns stakes in all the companies in the index, meaning you own a tiny piece of hundreds of stocks.

That setup also means that your performance will tend to track the performance of the index over time, about 10 percent annually over long periods, even if you’re not researching and analyzing the various stocks within it. By buying this kind of index fund, you’ll get the weighted average of all the holdings, and you’ll outperform most investors, even the pros, over time.

Index funds come in two major variants: exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds. Each has some benefits and drawbacks. But either way, you get the ability to track an index and to do so at what is often a relatively low cost, often a few dollars a year for every $10,000 invested.

However, if you’re looking to earn the returns of the index, it’s vital that you hold the index fund through the ups and downs, giving the investment the time to ride out the volatility. Otherwise, you’ll probably end up selling low and buying high, as the index gyrates.

Bottom line

Following the hottest stocks helps you find out what the market likes, but if you’re investing in these individual stocks, you’ll need to research the business and understand what the opportunity is. But a more lucrative way might be to scour through the underperforming stocks and find the businesses that will eventually go back into favor, allowing you to buy low and sell high.

Editorial Disclaimer: All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into investment strategies before making an investment decision. In addition, investors are advised that past investment product performance is no guarantee of future price appreciation.