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With another month coming to and end, we wanted to focus on the top performing S&P 500 stocks during December.

To create this list, we started with the top 100 S&P 500 performers over the last month. To refine the list, we collected data on profitability margins, and identified the companies that have a track record of being more profitable than their competitors.

Will these companies build on December's momentum? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the top six stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.

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List sorted by performance over the last month.

1. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM): Provides various financial services worldwide. The stock has gained 17.02% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 80.51% vs. industry average at 63.08%. TTM operating margin at 47.5% vs. industry average at 40.16%. TTM pretax margin at 25.% vs. industry average at 19.93%.

2. Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB): Operates as a diversified financial services holding company in the United States. The stock has gained 15.78% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 81.78% vs. industry average at 71.65%. TTM operating margin at 49.46% vs. industry average at 39.37%. TTM pretax margin at 26.82% vs. industry average at 22.68%.

3. Wells Fargo & Company (WFC): Provides retail, commercial, and corporate banking services primarily in the United States. The stock has gained 15.28% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 82.1% vs. industry average at 71.65%. TTM operating margin at 42.74% vs. industry average at 39.37%. TTM pretax margin at 25.6% vs. industry average at 22.68%.

4. Apollo Group Inc. (APOL): Provides educational programs and services at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral levels. The stock has gained 14.77% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 62.52% vs. industry average at 52.44%. TTM operating margin at 25.19% vs. industry average at 21.37%. TTM pretax margin at 20.16% vs. industry average at 18.54%.

5. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (PNC): Operates as a diversified financial services company. The stock has gained 14.70% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 81.22% vs. industry average at 71.65%. TTM operating margin at 41.59% vs. industry average at 39.37%. TTM pretax margin at 28.18% vs. industry average at 22.68%.

6. KLA-Tencor Corporation (KLAC): Engages in the design, manufacture, and marketing of process control and yield management solutions for the semiconductor and related nanoelectronics industries. The stock has gained 12.66% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 62.17% vs. industry average at 60.5%. TTM operating margin at 36.26% vs. industry average at 25.43%. TTM pretax margin at 34.48% vs. industry average at 24.63%.

7. M&T Bank Corp. (MTB): Operates as the holding company for M&T Bank and M&T Bank, National Association that provide commercial and retail banking services to individuals, corporations and other businesses, and institutions. The stock has gained 12.57% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 83.23% vs. industry average at 71.64%. TTM operating margin at 45.95% vs. industry average at 39.38%. TTM pretax margin at 32.11% vs. industry average at 22.68%.

8. Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (EW): Offers products and technologies designed to treat advanced cardiovascular disease worldwide. The stock has gained 12.42% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 74.09% vs. industry average at 65.78%. TTM operating margin at 18.05% vs. industry average at 15.%. TTM pretax margin at 17.38% vs. industry average at 11.62%.

9. Nordstrom Inc. (JWN): A fashion specialty retailer, offers apparel, shoes, cosmetics, and accessories for women, men, and children in the United States. The stock has gained 12.02% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 42.8% vs. industry average at 35.4%. TTM operating margin at 11.73% vs. industry average at 8.58%. TTM pretax margin at 10.57% vs. industry average at 7.25%.

10. Microchip Technology Inc. (MCHP): Develops and manufactures semiconductor products for various embedded control applications worldwide. The stock has gained 11.74% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 65.68% vs. industry average at 60.5%. TTM operating margin at 31.25% vs. industry average at 25.43%. TTM pretax margin at 29.98% vs. industry average at 24.63%.

11. KeyCorp (KEY): Operates as a holding company for KeyBank National Association that provides various banking services in the United States. The stock has gained 11.64% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 89.27% vs. industry average at 71.65%. TTM operating margin at 43.52% vs. industry average at 39.37%. TTM pretax margin at 32.04% vs. industry average at 22.68%.

12. Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. (MMC): Provides advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy, and human capital. The stock has gained 11.50% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 17.31% vs. industry average at 14.27%. TTM operating margin at 14.4% vs. industry average at 11.38%. TTM pretax margin at 11.91% vs. industry average at 10.07%.

13. Zimmer Holdings, Inc. (ZMH): Engages in the design, development, manufacture, and marketing of orthopaedic reconstructive implants, spinal and trauma devices, dental implants, and related surgical products. The stock has gained 11.26% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 83.55% vs. industry average at 65.78%. TTM operating margin at 28.79% vs. industry average at 15.%. TTM pretax margin at 20.36% vs. industry average at 11.63%.

14. Praxair Inc. (PX): Engages in the production, sale, and distribution of industrial gases primarily in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. The stock has gained 11.22% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 42.67% vs. industry average at 37.73%. TTM operating margin at 21.83% vs. industry average at 17.4%. TTM pretax margin at 20.44% vs. industry average at 16.46%.

15. Kimco Realty Corporation (KIM): Kimco Realty Corporation is a publicly owned real estate investment trust. The firm engages in acquisitions, development, and management of neighborhood and community shopping centers. The stock has gained 10.95% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 38.87% vs. industry average at 38.35%. TTM operating margin at 38.87% vs. industry average at 37.54%. TTM pretax margin at 16.39% vs. industry average at 15.26%.

16. Pall Corp. (PLL): Pall Corporation manufactures and markets filtration, purification, and separation products and integrated systems solutions worldwide. The stock has gained 10.55% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 53.53% vs. industry average at 32.37%. TTM operating margin at 17.16% vs. industry average at 12.95%. TTM pretax margin at 14.59% vs. industry average at 11.05%.

17. Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO): Operates as an international energy company with operations in the United States, Canada, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. The stock has gained 10.48% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 29.07% vs. industry average at 28.11%. TTM operating margin at 14.31% vs. industry average at 7.49%. TTM pretax margin at 14.84% vs. industry average at 7.99%.

18. Fastenal Co. (FAST): The Company Is Engaged As A Wholesaler And Retailer Of Industrial And Construction Supplies. The stock has gained 10.39% over the last month. TTM gross margin at 53.68% vs. industry average at 38.26%. TTM operating margin at 20.47% vs. industry average at 13.77%. TTM pretax margin at 20.49% vs. industry average at 12.93%.

*Profitablity data sourced from Fidelity.

Source: Momentum Trades: Top 18 Most Profitable S&P 500 December Champions