It's been a pretty rough year for stock investors, with the S&P basically ending flat in 2011. While the general market went nowhere last year, quite a few stocks poured in monster performances.

Chemical prices have been all over the place, but fertilizers and titanium dioxide have been two very bright spots for the industry.

Here's a list of this year's top 15 performers in the chemicals industry:



YTD Return

1 Valhi (NYSE: VHI)  171.2%
2 Flotek Industries (NYSE: FTK)  86.6%
3 Terra Nitrogen (NYSE: TNH)  69.6%
4 NewMarket (NYSE: NEU)  63.9%
5 Innophos Holdings  39.6%
6 Innospec  39.0%
7 Airgas  30.8%
8 W.R. Grace  28.2%
9 FutureFuel  28.2%
10 Balchem (Nasdaq: BCPC)  23.8%
11 Tredegar  19.9%
12 LSB Industries (NYSE: LXU)  16.3%
13 RPM International (NYSE: RPM)  15.6%
14 Ecolab  15.1%
15 Praxair  14.7%

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Only includes companies listed on U.S. exchanges with a market capitalization greater than $500 million.

As the saying goes, past performance is not a guarantee of future results. If you're looking for a strong outperformer in the year ahead, our analysts have selected a stock that they believe is poised for tremendous growth in 2012. Find out which company in our new free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." Thousands have already requested access and it'll only be available for a limited time. Simply click here -- it's free.

Unfortunately, Dan Dzombak does not own any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ecolab and LSB Industries. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Balchem and Innophos Holdings. 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.