Most investors dream of seeing a stock they own double in a single year. In 2015, several dozen stocks are on pace to finish with gains of 100% or more. Many of those are highflying small companies in niche areas like biotechnology where business success has sent stock prices soaring. But for some stocks, this year's performance was more shocking, with even well-established mature businesses seeing huge gains. Let's look at three surprise stock doubles for 2015.
Wayfair (NYSE:W), up 148%
Wayfair is far from a household name, but the young company has grown quickly in its brief history. The Boston-based company specializes in online retail, with an emphasis on furniture, housewares, and other home furnishings. Wayfair's role is to create a marketplace that essentially links its partner manufacturers to consumers, with the company operating not only its namesake website but also sites including AllModern.com, DwellStudio.com, JossAndMain.com, and BirchLane.com.
Coming into the holiday season, Wayfair has built up considerable momentum. In its most recent quarter, Wayfair saw revenue soar 77%, with customer counts in its direct-retail business climbing more than 60% to 4.6 million. Although the company is still losing money, those losses have narrowed considerably in the past year, and metrics on revenue and order volume per customer are moving in the right direction. Early signs from Thanksgiving weekend show that Wayfair is capitalizing on the shifting trend toward e-commerce, and as shoppers become more comfortable with buying large items like furniture online, Wayfair has established itself as a front-runner in finding more growth opportunities in the future.
Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ:AOBC), up 126%
Gun-maker Smith & Wesson has endured its share of ups and downs in recent years in line with the movements in popular opinion on firearms. In the past, Smith & Wesson had warned that booming sales from fears about tighter gun-control laws weren't sustainable, and that led to relatively poor performance for the stock in 2014.
This year, though, Smith & Wesson has had success in two primary areas. First, it has been able to adapt to what CEO James Debney called "a normalizing firearm market following an earlier consumer surge in firearm purchases," making efforts to retain and build market share and sustain its reputation among gun owners and would-be buyers. Demand for both firearms and accessories was strong, with Smith & Wesson's buyout of Battenfeld Technologies in late 2014 paying off in the accessories arena.
Most recently, the San Bernardino attack has once again raised awareness of gun-control issues, prompting the usual buying response among gun buyers and producing greater sales for Smith & Wesson. The company has faced some recent regulatory challenges, with the New York City Public Advocate requesting an SEC investigation of disclosures about gun use among criminals. With the company having weathered such difficulties before, however, investors appear confident that Smith & Wesson will once again emerge stronger.
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (NASDAQ:COKE), up 116%
The worldwide beverage business is massive, and Coca-Cola plays a key role in the global industry. Over time, the beverage giant has gone through periods in which it sought to internalize bottling operations into a vertically integrated unit, but more recently, Coca-Cola has moved to return control of bottling operations to companies like Coca-Cola Bottling, which is the largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the U.S. market.
In September, Coca-Cola Bottling announced that it would purchase manufacturing plants in Virginia, Maryland, Indiana, and Ohio from Coca-Cola. The deal is just part of what the bottling company sees as its eventual future scope, with the intent of continuing to expand.
In addition, consolidation activity in the industry has also supported the share price. A key merger of three players in the Western European bottling industry will make Coca-Cola European Partners the biggest independent Coke bottler in the world, but it also shows the value of bottling companies like Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated. Further growth could help the stock climb even further on top of its impressive gains in 2015.
It's rare for stocks to double, and rarer still for companies in established business areas like furniture, firearms, and bottling to post huge gains. Nevertheless, investors in these three stocks have something extra to celebrate for the holidays this year.
Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Wayfair. 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.