The Best Stocks for 2011

It's that time a year again; the time to take stock of the year ending and to look ahead for what's to come. In the Fool's case, that involves checking in with our annual "Best Stocks" series!

So, how did our picks do last year?

Company

Return (%)

ATP Oil & Gas (Nasdaq: ATPG  )

(7.7)

Akamai (Nasdaq: AKAM  )

89.1

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  )

54.4

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B  )

21.6

Costco

24.2

Exelon

(10.6)

Google

(3.1)

Intel

5.7

Intuitive Surgical

(14.5)

NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  )

(20.2)

Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW  )

156.7

Smart Balance

(26.8)

UPS (NYSE: UPS  )

30.0

Total Average

23.0

Sources: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, and Morningstar. Returns are adjusted for dividends.

It was a pretty mixed bag, performance-wise. Both NVIDIA and Intel struggled as PC sales came under threat from new devices like smartphones. Meanwhile, ATP Oil & Gas saw its shares hammered after BP's Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf; ATP has a balance sheet loaded with debt, so a long-term drilling moratorium or adverse regulations could have been a stro ng body blow to the company.

However, other stocks more than picked up the slack. Top performer Silver Wheaton rode a wave of rising silver prices to nearly 157% returns. Both Akamai and Apple stood at the forefront of technology, and were rewarded for it. Akamai helps companies eliminate bandwidth woes with its powerful groupings of servers across the country. The overwhelming success of the iPad along with the continuing rapid sales growth of the iPhone propelled Apple to 54% returns, despite the company already being worth nearly $190 billion at the start of the year. At the close of the year, Apple is a nearly $300 billion monster, making it the second most valuable company in the world.

Overall, outsized winners like Akamai, Apple, and Silver Wheaton helped propel the portfolio to a 23% return. That soundly beats the general market's still-excellent 15.3% return over the past year.

However, in the year ahead, we're looking to do even better. In this year's edition, we're rolling out 12 new picks from our Foolish contributors that will be looking to score market-thumping returns in 2011.

Stop by each article below, and make sure to vote in the poll at the bottom of each article. We'll take those results and crown the stock our readers vote most often for as "The Best Stock for 2011."

The Best Stocks for 2011:

There are your picks for the year ahead. Make sure to hit the virtual voting booths and vote for the stock you think is the best stock of 2011. Or drop a comment in the comments box below letting us know any stocks we missed.

Eric Bleeker owns shares of NVIDIA and ATP Oil & Gas. Berkshire Hathaway, Costco Wholesale, Exelon, Google, and Intel are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Akamai Technologies, Google, IMAX, Intuitive Surgical, and 51job are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, Costco Wholesale, and NVIDIA are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. United Parcel Service is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended writing covered calls on Exelon. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. The Fool owns shares of Altria Group, Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, Costco Wholesale, Google, and United Parcel Service. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (44) | Recommend This Article (136)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:38 PM, jesusfreakinco wrote:

    TMGSinch rocks - he picked SLW. Kuddos to Chris. Other Fools would be smart to follow this amazing PM analyst!

    JFC

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:50 PM, audie116 wrote:

    HL kicked Silver Wheatons hind end big time. Bought at 1.25 and sold at 10.00 - 10.31.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:56 PM, audie116 wrote:

    opps posted too quick. Actually bought HL in 2009 and held tell 12/2010. selling three times on the way up averaging over 500%

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 7:10 PM, h53echo wrote:

    I've been holding GORO since $7 and still feel positive about growth next year. $.03 cash payout so far each month leads me to believe management believes in the company. I'll probably bail at $40 or sell 1/2 my position and keep holding 1000 and sell those at $35 if it falls after hitting $40.

    Also hold AXU at $5 and am looking at $12 next year. But less sure than GORO

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 7:42 PM, Merton123 wrote:

    I got different performance figures then Erics for the 2010 portfolio

    1/4/10 12/30 Return

    ATPG 19.41 16.81 -13.40%

    AKAm 25.92 47.68 83.95%

    AAPL 214.01 323.66 51.24%

    BRK.B 66.2 79.4 19.94%

    COST 59.41 72.85 22.62%

    EXC 48.88 41.48 -15.14%

    GOOG 626.75 598.86 -4.45%

    INTC 20.88 21.02 0.67%

    ISRG 308.77 256.96 -16.78%

    NVDA 18.49 14.99 -18.93%

    SLW 15.79 37.87 139.84%

    SMBL 6.3 4.36 -30.79%

    Average 18.23%

    Nasdaq 15.36%

    Motley Fool did pull a portfolio that outperformed the Nasdaq (all the stocks are from the nasdaq). When you take into account brokerage costs and outside of a Roth IRA taxes - the 3% difference becomes smaller. I am not trying to rain on anyone's parade - however I believe that this approach gives a better context to evaluate the stocks picked at the end of 2009 for 2010.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 7:49 PM, briansboxers wrote:

    I hope Altria doesnt go south I have a LOT invested in it

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 8:15 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    If we took off the skewing of Silver Wheaton and Smart Balance, what would our return be? And is this an unweighted balance as in equal money per issue or what? Just interested.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 8:49 PM, TMFRhino wrote:

    Hey Merton,

    Couple points. The stock returns you used weren't adjusted for dividends, so there will be a difference. Not adjusted for dividends, the S&P has returned about 12.8% since the start of the year. I suppose if people use the Nasdaq to index that comparison could be more fair, but generally indexers prefer the S&P.

    Also, I calculated returns from December 31 closing prices rather than the closing of the first day of January. A quick way to check YTD returns that include dividends is to use Morningstar:

    http://performance.morningstar.com/stock/performance-return....

    and then just change the ticker at the end of the URL for each stock.

    Hope that help explains my calculation.

    Mountain8,

    It would have been lower for sure. If you figure SMBL underperformed by about 45 percent and Silver Wheaton outperformed by ~140 percent and divide that by the 13 picks it brings performance to slightly over the S&P (bit of a back of the envelope there).

    No doubt that skews it, but when you take some growth focused picks like Akamai and Smart Balance you're investing knowing there will be outsized gains and losses, so I've never quite agreed with the skewing argument. Stock Advisor is heavily skewed by some repeated big calls in huge outperformers, but investors who bought Netflix or Marvel have only been rewarded with these returns and have benefited from a tax perspective as well.

    Anyway, my .02 on that. There's always a bit of an "amusement" factor to judging a selection of stocks on an arbitrary time frame like one year to begin with. :) Not meaning to rest on any laurels for an 8% outperformence over a year.

    Fool on!

    Eric

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 9:22 PM, bebop111 wrote:

    If Altria under-performs, perhaps (assuming the competition doesn't pick up the slack) there will be fewer tobacco purchases in the coming year. THAT would outcome would welcomed by millions of people (except, perhaps, for shareholders, employees and industry execs.)

    Just another perspective.... : )

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 10:51 PM, Boomerchef wrote:

    Altria as made a lot of money for a lot of people, but where does ethics come in? Like the local dope dealer they give out free samples to get people addicted. Would you buy stock in your local dope dealer? I can't sleep at night knowing my income is coming from creating cancer patients. I can't believe business ethics should be an oxymoron.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 11:00 PM, Merton123 wrote:

    Thanks Eric - I appreciate your follow up.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 8:28 AM, Boomerchef wrote:

    Isn't there any way to control this spam?

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 8:42 AM, beechtree1 wrote:

    I'd concur, Altria, will do well in 2011 as will

    Berkshire Hathaway. Such an excellent stock,

    yet so undervalued. What has Mr Buffett done

    to deserve it? It must be those derivative contracts he's entered into. He should have asked me!!!

    I'd have advised him; don't do it uncle Warren,

    don't.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 9:38 AM, MichaelHamilton wrote:

    MFG has been rising a lot 30% in the last couple of months but could still double from here, The P/E is only 5 and the company has been making some interesting moves recently. Recent strength indicates that this stock is now in favor.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 10:22 AM, Merton123 wrote:

    Boomerchief brings up a good point between business ethics and investing in relation to Altria. Should investors avoid investing in: casinos; tobacco companies; gun powder manufacturing (e.g., Dupont), Beverage Companies companies (e.g., Diago, Coke), fast food restaraunts (e.g., McDonald) and so-forth? Warren Buffet made a fortune investing in Coke which is basically carbonated colored water with a lot of sugar. My responce is that everybody exercises a choice to consume or not consume these products. Society during the prohibition period tried to legislate people choices with unintended consequences - Al Capone. I believe that we should let people make their own choices and also allow them to enjoy/suffer the consequences of those choices.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 10:52 AM, Colo14ersguy wrote:

    I am confused. I have a Fool Report called Stocks 2010 that has BD, China Mobile, Compass Minerals, Devon, Hilldebrand,NIke, Olin, Somantecs, Take two and Yum as its picks. I thought these were the "official" Fool picks for the year. Where did the list of ATP, AKAM, AAPL etc come from and is there a Stocks 2011 list somewhere that I missed? Any help appreciated. Thanks.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 11:05 AM, cuculan wrote:

    Yahoo will be king in 2011, driven by its link with Alibaba!

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 12:00 PM, bothisellhigher wrote:

    I'm thinking oil will be solid in 2011...I'm picking a Canadian newcomer...COUGF to rock the most %wise...

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 12:24 PM, John3sixteen wrote:

    Interesting picks. One question ?

    Where is the SILVER pick? You have a gold, but if the bull trend continues, I think foolishly that silver outperforms again in 2011. I for one still like SLW and HL .

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 1:52 PM, ffbj wrote:

    Bit of a contrarian here. Time to take profits on SLW, though it's up again today and maybe even in the next month or so. But the bloom is off the rose, now it's people chasing perfomance. Also I think altria will be flat though I own some thinking about selling it, maybe this summer.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 10:21 PM, et2explorer wrote:

    Darwin and Imax have one thing in common. They both are visionaries of the future and EVOLVE. I knew this when I first bought a chunk of shares in1999 for $39.00 @ I held them to their lows of $.50@ and feel sorry I did not load up the wagon back then. But who could have done better when they put it up for sale and no one including SONY did not see more than pocket change for this revolutionary entertainment GIANT? I advised them to speak to the Pope, for I can see the Catholic religion making good use of such a technology. Well, with IMAX as the Giant surely Jesus as the SUPERSTAR, it would be a perfect fit for both.

    I hope the Captains at the helm can keep piloting this IMAX ship to the moon if they can keep abreast of knew technologies that can reproduce 3D without the goggles. If Apple can do it, Imax better get it first. As for RealD they are a one trick pony.

    The Future certainly looks to me , to be in 3d and bigger than life IMAX.

    Who Knows they may just wonder "where no one Has gone before".

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 10:50 PM, MichaelHamilton wrote:

    Altria sales have bombed over the last few years and so has the dividend, the dividend is also a large proportion of earnings. This is a dying company, just need to look at the financial statements over the last 4 years, it is obvious to me that this is not a good buy.

  • Report this Comment On January 01, 2011, at 3:43 PM, TMFRhino wrote:

    Hey Colo14ersguy,

    You most likely have our "Stock 2010" report. That's published by our newsletter teams and given away as a bonus to new members. It's historically had a pretty great track record.

    Our online editorial department runs a series each year where our contributing writers makes their picks. That's what "Best Stock for XYZ Year." That's the article published above.

    Hope that helps,

    Eric

  • Report this Comment On January 01, 2011, at 5:27 PM, jgneuw wrote:

    ARRS has been highly recommended by Mot Fool. I cannot see the wisdom in this to save my life however.

    First, its income growth has been NEG for the last 10 years except for '06. And price per sales is flat and ROE is not all that impressive either. So, tell me again why i want to buy it. Supposedly they are on the cusp of being bought up by the likes of CISCO. Adding two losers don't make a winner. ---- JG

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2011, at 9:39 PM, pcristi88 wrote:

    I would like to start investing money this year. I have $1500 and can contribute $250.00 every month. where do I start?

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2011, at 10:10 PM, ItAintCool wrote:

    SIRI outperformed every stock in your list in 2010, except for Silver Wheaton (and was only beaten by that stock by 6%). And the entry point for SIRI was much more inexpensive than all of your stocks, making it easier for the average investor to buy in without much risk.

    The stock is still inexpensive, but not for long. Buy it while you still can. You snooze, you lose.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2011, at 10:14 AM, Colo14ersguy wrote:

    pcrist-- I think you need to go with a mutual fund because of your 250 month contribution. I would strongly urge you to set up an automatic withdrawl from your bank to the fund so it is done every month. Dollar cost averaging will serve you well in the long run. Just keep with it year after year.

    TMFRhino--- thanks for the info.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2011, at 10:28 AM, EnigmaDude wrote:

    If I can only pick one it would be IMAX. I own a few shares in my IRA and am looking for a dip to add more.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2011, at 12:24 AM, jharna24 wrote:

    n what can only be dubbed a very surprising move, the price of stocks and commodities took a tumble as China's central bank implemented an interest rate hike that no one ever saw coming.

    http://www.insidedollars.com

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2011, at 5:43 AM, ceoworld wrote:

    Yahoo did not have the best 2010, Yahoo will engage in at least one significant transaction, possibly the sale of its stake in Alibaba Group or an acquisition focused on the international, social media or mobile markets. Hope for the best :)

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2011, at 6:28 PM, TMFHousel wrote:

    "Altria sales have bombed over the last few years and so has the dividend"

    That simply ins't true. You might not be adjusting for spinoffs (PM Intl and Kraft).

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2011, at 7:31 PM, yosemitebean wrote:

    I'm going with Akamai, Berkshire Hathaway, and NVIDIA

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 9:09 AM, john386 wrote:

    BIDU: Did we miss this one? I bought it some years ago and it has been flying. Might want to look into this.

    Frank

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 7:54 PM, Stimulant wrote:

    Looking at the "best picks" of 2010, some of the stocks in that list seem better suited for a "worst picks" list for 2010.

    Other stocks on the list, however, managed to compensate for these horrible picks, while others turned out to be "slightly above average".

    The list for 2011 seems to me to be even weirder.

    Google was actually a good pick. the fact that it lost in 2010, merely suggests IMHO, that "2010" should have been "shifted", a little bit, to encompass the wealth of growth that Google has slowly but surely made itself poised to deliver.

    Google surely belongs in the "best picks" for 2011 list, even more than it belonged in the 2010 list.

    Why Yahoo should be in that (2011) list is beyond me.

  • Report this Comment On January 07, 2011, at 3:53 PM, riteadier wrote:

    What about Cisco?

  • Report this Comment On January 08, 2011, at 8:15 PM, FWW80KSW wrote:

    Why not include:

    Akamai (AKAM)

    Becton, Dickison &

    co (BDX)

  • Report this Comment On January 09, 2011, at 12:52 AM, arunrajann wrote:

    CERP : Cereplast is going to rock

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2011, at 12:09 PM, lgordo99 wrote:

    Just bought PDLI and it immediately droped 13 % because of the recent court action. The fundamentals still look good though and I'm holding expecting a bounce in the near future.

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2011, at 12:12 PM, lgordo99 wrote:

    This is my second posting. Where are all the other current postings? Except for mine the most current one is jan, 09, 2011.

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2011, at 12:14 PM, lgordo99 wrote:

    Has AAPL peaked or can I get in now and make some quick money? I know that is not the Fool MO but I still like to make a quick buck occasionally.

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2011, at 6:55 PM, Chux91 wrote:

    It's either precious metals (again) or an energy company, I do know that. And though the gains can be unpredictable, they can also be spectacular. Could Yahoo or Boeing perform even a double or semi-perform what Silver Wheaton did last year?? Nope....but Gammon, Thompson Creek or even Range are more than capable. All are great companies and anything from here is possible.

  • Report this Comment On January 23, 2011, at 6:29 AM, latinoeconomist wrote:

    My vote: Life Technologies Corp. (LIFE)

  • Report this Comment On December 26, 2011, at 9:40 AM, indianruin wrote:

    A year later, the advice doesn't seem particularly sage. You would have done better investing in an ETF of the S&P 500.

  • Report this Comment On April 11, 2012, at 5:07 PM, ddaydetroit wrote:

    I'm glad I didnt follow this advice

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