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.