Best Performing Stocks of The Past 12 Months

This market is tricky and when you’re looking to make money from it, it becomes important to analyze all the best-performing stocks and compare your portfolio to the current S&P 500 to make an informed decision.

New to IWT?

And join over 800,000 readers getting our Rich Life Insiders newsletter:

How To Measure Stock Performance

One of the best ways would be to measure stock performance by calculating its year-on-year growth. Simply take a stock’s price at the start of the year and see how much it changed in 12 months.

For example, Tesla’s stock was $744.40 at the start of 2021 and $715.40 at the end of August 2021.

A year is a long enough time for a stock to rise and fall, and it’s also easy to compare yearly returns.

It’s also important to have perspective while measuring stock returns, so you must go a step further and look at the top 1,000 stocks by returns in large-cap, mid-cap, and small-cap.

Companies of different sizes tend to grow at different speeds, try to group them by market capitalization. It allows you to compare their returns better, and give a complete picture of the stock performance.

The 20 Best Performing Stocks in The Past 12 Months

In this article, we are going to take the 6 best-performing stocks from small-cap and mid-cap each, and the 8 best from large-cap to make up the list of the 20 best-performing stocks in the past 12 months.

1. PROS Holdings (PRO)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $43.99

12-month stock growth rate: 10.001%

Type: Small-cap market leader  

PROS produces pricing optimization software and is also leading the market with revenue management solutions in the travel industry. The company provides artificial intelligence-based software to airlines which are said to gain high demand in the ever-evolving digital age.

2. BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (BCRX)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $15.66

12-month stock growth rate: 400.001%

Type: Small-cap

BioCryst manufactures pills of Rapivab that treat flu and Orladeyo that treat hereditary angioedema. It is currently working on treating paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. BioCryst is also estimated to have made $1.8 million in the first quarter of the year.

3. Sonic Automotive (SAH)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $50.86

12-month stock growth rate: 13.637%

Type: Small-cap

Being one of the largest US auto retailers having a cap of $2 billion has had its revenue up by 25% in the last quarter of 2020. They are planning to capitalize on the high rebounding demand for automobiles in 2021.

4. Core Laboratories (CLB)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $28.93

12-month stock growth rate: 31.965%

Type: Small-cap

This laboratory offers top-quality oil services and oil recovery techniques for the industry. There is presumed to be a boom in the oil demand in 2021. This lab has been making receiving steady returns for the past two decades and has no virtual difficulties whatsoever. 

5. Frank’s International (FI)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $3.01

12-month stock growth rate: 29.167%

Type: Small-cap

FI offers tubular services to the oil and gas industries on a large scale. They merged with a private U.K. oil company and hold 35% of ownership shared. Tubing holds great importance in various industries and the want would only increase here on out. 

6. Tenneco (TEN)

Stock Price on  28th August 2021: $16.50

12-month stock growth rate: 93.210% 

Type: Small-cap

This company produces emission control devices,  motor parts, powertrains, and performance solutions for automobiles. They have significantly reduced debt and improved operating performances with their wheel-end products. Tenneco is on the rise.

7. Targa Resources (TRGP)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $45.15

12-month stock growth rate: 164.706%

Type: Mid-cap

U.S.-based, it’s one of the largest companies delivering natural gas and gas liquids in the country. It’s an energy infrastructure producer that analysts strongly approve of investing in. 

8. Ciena (CIEN)

Stock Price on  28th August 2021: $57.18

12-month stock growth rate: 1.787%

Type: Mid-cap

Ciena manufactures networking hardware along with software and services. Despite a rough beginning with underinvestment, Ciena now is attracting multiple clients and business awards. Ciena is said to grow faster because of its powerful product production.

9. Papa John’s (PZZA)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $ 125.02

12-month stock growth rate: 27.551%

Type: Mid-cap

The year 2020 proved to be extremely beneficial for Papa John’s. Its stocks went high up to 42%. With a consistent sales momentum, management, and making necessary changes in the business, Papa John’s is making rapid progress even in the stock market.

10. Signature Bank (SBNY)

Stock Price on  28th August 2021: $263.13

12-month stock growth rate: 163.001%

Type: Mid-cap

Analysts who rate shares believe that this bank is incredibly well-run. Consistent loan growth, larger deposits, a good place with cryptocurrency, and higher earnings make this bank one of the best-performing stocks on the market.

11. Builders FirstSource Inc (BLDR)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $53.25

12-month stock growth rate: 70.968%

Type: Mid-cap

Residential construction is always in high demand. BLDR provides building materials, components, and construction services to builders. It offers affordable materials, takes proactive decisions to grow, and effectively fulfills housing demands in the industry, giving it a market value of $10.1 billion.

The world wants you to be vanilla...

…but you don’t have to take the same path as everyone else. How would it look if you designed a Rich Life on your own terms? Take our quiz and find out:

12. XPO Logistics (XPO)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $88.44

12-month stock growth rate: 68.361%

Type: Mid-cap

Along with a logistics company, XPO also runs a transportation business that is working with 18 countries. They offer supply chains and warehouses and ship to 27 countries. This company has had a steady momentum financially with major profits along the way that gives its a market value of $9.9 billion.

13.  Intuitive Surgical Inc (ISRG)

Stock Price on  28th August 2021: $1036.52

12-month stock growth rate:  42.505%

Type: Large-cap

ISRG develops and manufactures da Vinci (robotic)surgical systems. Including all the instruments and accessories needed for invasive surgery. With an annual market return of 48.89%, ISRG has had one of the best stock metrics in the game. 

14.  Fortinet Inc (FTNT)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $316.06

12-month stock growth rate: 143.078%

Type: Large-cap

A revenue that grew over 30% in mid-2021, sales have increased by 41%. FTNT provides cloud-based cybersecurity software. Talking about numbers, the revenue is expected to be around $3.25 billion, which makes this a top-performing stock to buy.

15.  Tesla Inc (TSLA)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $711.92

12-month stock growth rate: 60.821%

Type: Large-cap

Tesla has exceeded the analysts’ expectations with increased revenue and earnings of $720 per share in the year 2021. Tesla’s year-over-year growth is steady and keeps strong. Even though it might seem like an expensive stock at times, and it has its ups and downs, some analysts still believe in Tesla and its power to skyrocket.

16.  Adobe Inc (ADBE)

Stock Price on  28th August 2021: $658.52

12-month stock growth rate: 27.512%

Type: Large-cap

Earnings growth and cash flow growth both are equally important for the expansion of a business. Adobe stays one of the best-performing stocks this year as well.  Its EPS is growth rate has been 37.5% and also expected to grow 17.1% than the considered industry average of 10.7%. The cash flow growth of the company has also been 35.5% steady.

17.  Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $1918.95

12-month stock growth rate: 47.441%

Type: Large-cap

Yes, you played a role in Chipotle’s massive stock price return by eating its lip-smacking food. We all did. Apart from that, a new CEO, rapidly increasing digital sales, a push into catering and delivery services, and the opening of new restaurants led to Chipotle’s stellar performance.

18.  Apple Inc (AAPL)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $148.50

12-month stock growth rate:  19.061%

Type: Large-cap

Apple’s year over year rose by 36% in revenue. It also grew in other areas like wearables and accessories, iPads, and services like Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, and a new credit card.

19.  Align Technology Inc (ALGN)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $701.98

12-month stock growth rate: 133.499%

Type: Large-cap

The manufacturer of the Invisalign and 3D digital scanners gained success with their most advanced clear aligner system that works wonders. They have had over 9 million users and counting. With consistent value and programs provided to the patients, ALGN is now considered one of the best-performing stocks today.

20.  Zoom Video Communications Inc (ZM)

Stock Price on 28th August 2021: $340.81

12-month stock growth rate: 13.881%

Type: Large-cap

While the year 2020 was devastating for most businesses, for ZM, it made it a pandemic success story. Helping employees and businesses across the globe to work and communicate, Zoom was one of the most helpful tools when working from home. The company made a total of $882 million during the fourth quarter of this year.

Why Picking the Best Performing Stocks is Not Likely

All people who have ever bought a stock thought it was the best performing stock. Why else would they buy it?

But you are more likely to pick a losing stock than one that makes you very rich. That’s a statement backed by 90 years of research.

From 1926 to 2015, there have been 25,782 distinct stocks. Yes, I know the number seems low, but half of the stocks ever to be listed on the stock market disappear within seven years.

During these 90 years, the stock market rose $32 Trillion in value. But more than half of it came from JUST the top 86 companies. 86 out of 25,728! The remaining wealth was generated by the top 1000 stocks.  ONLY 4% of all the companies amounted to the “best performing stocks”. In other words, the other 96% of the stocks were losers.

Do you still think it is easy to pick winning stocks?

Here’s one more piece of data. If you were to buy and hold stocks from 1926 to 2015, four out of seven stocks you bought would have had lower returns than if you had invested in 1-month US Treasuries.

Just investing in the previous year’s best performers would not work either. 12 out of the 20 best performing from the above list had a negative return in the year before that.

Stage Stores is a classic example. It grew by 941% to $8.12 in 2019. But its price in 2013 was a shade under $29. Before its astronomical rise in 2019, Stage Stores had a cosmological fall and had lost almost all of its value.

You may be wondering. Okay, I get that picking individual stocks is hard, and the odds of success are low. But then what’s the solution?

The Best Way to Invest in Stocks

Index funds.

Index funds invest in a basket of stocks and aim to mimic an index like the S&P 500. They don’t try to pick winners (which we know is hard). They don’t try to “beat the market”. Their objective is to be the market.

Passively managed index funds have beaten actively managed funds more than 90% of the time. It shows that those who try to beat the market and get massive returns fail miserably.

On the other hand, an index fund lets you own the entire market, which has historically given positive returns.

Since 1926, the S&P has given an annualized return of 10.21% for 92 years. At that rate, your invested money will double roughly every seven years.

Because of all these reasons, I recommend putting 90% of your stock investments into index funds rather than trying to pick winning stocks. You can use the remaining 10% to “scratch your itch” of buying individual stocks after doing your due diligence.

If you liked this post, you’d LOVE our Ultimate Guide to Personal Finance

It’s one of the best things we’ve published, and totally free – just tell us where to send it:

Along with the guide, I'll also send you my Insiders newsletter where I share other exclusive content that's not on the blog.
Written by

Host of Netflix's "How to Get Rich", NYT Bestselling Author & host of the hit I Will Teach You To Be Rich Podcast. For over 20 years, Ramit has been sharing proven strategies to help people like you take control of their money and live a Rich Life.