The Most Amazing S&P Stocks of the Past 7 Years

Five years ago, the stock market hit its lowest levels of the 2008 and 2009 bear market, and since then, the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) has soared more than 1,200 points. But rather than focusing only on the performance of stocks since the worst of times during the financial crisis, the fairer way to judge the best stocks in the market is to include both the huge declines after the market's last record highs in late 2007 and the ensuing recovery from the bear-market lows. When you look at S&P 500 stocks that way, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) , (NASDAQ: PCLN  ) , and Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALXN  ) rise to the top, joining Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: REGN  ) and its impressive five-year performance.

^SPX Chart

S&P data by YCharts

One lesson you can learn from these four stocks is that in certain industries, general bull- and bear-market cycles don't really have a big impact. The pharmaceutical and biotech sector is definitely one where company-specific developments are far more important than what's going on in the overall market. For Alexion, the success of its Soliris drug, which was approved by the FDA and its European regulatory counterpart in 2007, has proven to be the small company's primary growth driver. Even though Alexion has since acquired its asfotase alfa clinical-stage treatment for hypophosphatasia, Soliris remains a huge part of the company's strategy for the future, with the potential for expanded indications. Meanwhile, for Regeneron, the approval of Eylea to treat macular degeneration had the same effect on its stock. Yet because Regeneron's success came after the bear market had ended, one could mistakenly conclude that its success was somehow tied to the broader market's recovery rather than its own success.

Even with Netflix, you can see how little the bear market affected the path of the best growth stocks. Netflix actually gained ground during 2008, even as the market plunged 37%. Its rises and falls were tied almost entirely to its own individual performance, with growth potential in streaming video sending the stock higher, miscues related to its changing business model sending it plunging, and a renewed sense of its core purpose leading it back to all-time record highs again.

Meanwhile, priceline showed that even stocks that were hit hard in the bear market still had the potential to recover. The travel portal started regaining ground before the market hit bottom in March 2009, with its shares actually hitting bottom the preceding December. Combined with the fact that the company's stock had continued to climb almost until mid-2008, priceline's overall performance showed the staying power of its business model and the competitive advantages it has built against its online-travel peers.

It's not enough to judge a stock based on half a market cycle. Only by observing how a stock acts in bull and bear market can you get a true sense of whether they're truly amazing.

You can find big winners before they happen
They said it couldn't be done. But David Gardner has proved them wrong time, and time, and time again with stock returns like 926%, 2,239%, and 4,371%. In fact, just recently one of his favorite stocks became a 100-bagger. And he's ready to do it again. You can uncover his scientific approach to crushing the market and his carefully chosen six picks for ultimate growth instantly, because he's making this premium report free for you today. Click here now for access.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

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.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2869183, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/3/2015 5:17:41 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Dan Caplinger

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

Today's Market

updated 8 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,351.38 293.03 1.82%
S&P 500 1,948.86 35.01 1.83%
NASD 4,749.98 113.87 2.46%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

9/2/2015 4:36 PM
^GSPC $1948.86 Up +35.01 +1.83%
S&P 500 INDEX CAPS Rating: No stars
ALXN $176.24 Up +5.39 +3.15%
Alexion Pharmaceut… CAPS Rating: ***
NFLX $105.44 Down -0.35 -0.33%
Netflix CAPS Rating: ***
PCLN $1242.87 Up +27.51 +2.26%
Priceline Group CAPS Rating: ****
REGN $518.78 Up +22.36 +4.50%
Regeneron Pharmace… CAPS Rating: ***