While December is typically a strong month for equities, most of the month's gains have historically come prior to Christmas, while the last week of the year tends to be trendless with a slight positive bias. With just seven trading days left in the year, we wanted to highlight which stocks in the S&P 500 have historically seen the best and worst returns from the close on 12/21 through the end of December over the last ten years. The first table below lists the 14 stocks in the index that have seen a median gain of 2% or more during this period, and for each stock, we include the year where it saw its best and worst gains.
Topping the list of winning stocks to close out the year, shares of Viacom (NASDAQ:VIAB) have seen a median gain of 2.89% with positive returns 60% of the time. The stock had its best end-of-year gain in 2008 when it rallied 5.4% and its worst in 2009 when it fell 1.59%. The most notable name on the list of winners, however, is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). Over the last ten years, the stock has seen a median gain of 2.15% with positive returns 60% of the time. AAPL's best end to a year was in 2009 (6.31%), while its worst was 2008 (-5.17%). In terms of sector representation, both the Consumer Discretionary and Materials sectors account for four of the fourteen stocks listed.
On the downside, fourteen stocks in the S&P 500 have seen a median decline of 1% or more to end the year. Surprisingly, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) tops the list of losers with a median decline of 1.96% and positive returns just 40% of the time. The next worst performer has been Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM), which has seen a median decline of 1.49% with positive returns just twice. Along with Altria (NYSE:MO) and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), AKAM is the least consistent to the upside of the stocks listed.