In November we received excellent participation from our analysts in giving their picks for what would be the Best Blue Chip for 2007. Now it's time to look at the interim results and see who's carrying their weight and who might be receiving pink slips. I'll look at the three best-performing stocks from the group, along with the three worst-performing stocks. The results haven't been adjusted for dividends, but they still paint an adequate picture of how the field is looking at this point in the race.

At the break, Tim Hanson has jumped out to an early lead with his pick of Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO), which has returned its shareholders an astounding 49.2% year to date. The nation's largest independent oil refiner reported a Q1 record for net income in April as its profits surged 35% on a year-over-year basis. Additional good news for investors was the company's decision to up its share-buyback authorization from $2 billion to $6 billion.

Had it not been for the 6.6% drop in its stock price so far this week, Katrina Chan's pick of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) would actually hold a slight lead over Valero. With a year-to-date return of 40.2%, the company announced new versions of its Safari Web Browser earlier this week, which Apple is hoping can grow its share of the Web browser market. Although Apple and Valero are way out in front of the field, the golden arches are looming in the background with McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) having returned 19% year to date.

Presently, Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) is battling to prevent a last-place finish, with its price down 15% year to date. Amgen has faced a series of setbacks lately, with an FDA panel recommending more restrictive labeling for two of its anemia drugs, and more recently with its Vectibix compound receiving a recommendation that it not be approved in the European Union as a treatment for colorectal cancer.

Looking at our other two laggards, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) recently announced a 5% increase in its Q1 profits vs. a year ago. However, revenues missed Wall Street's expectations. And after its strong finish in the second half of 2006, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) gave back most of those gains in the first four months of 2007. June has brought good news for its shareholders, though. The company recently announced that it's expecting to file for regulatory approval of five new drugs by the end of the year and seven to 10 drugs between 2008 and 2010.

With that said, here are the best and the worst of the first half:


Change in Stock Price

Valero Energy






Bank of America


Johnson & Johnson




Returns from 1/3/2007 to 6/13/2007. Data from Capital IQ.

Will Valero's lead hold up, or will Apple's iPhone make for a second-half surge? The Fool would like to hear your opinions on the picks for The Best Blue Chip for 2007. So check out our Motley Fool CAPS community intelligence database, which already has more than 30,000 members, and cast your rating for each of these stocks. We will revisit this race at year's end to see who stays and who needs to go.

Valero Energy is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. Bank of America and Johnson & Johnson are recommendations of Motley Fool Income Investor. Both newsletters are beating the market and are available for a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Billy Fisher does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.