Highest performing stocks since Trump took office
Conventional wisdom has long held that the president doesn't control the performance of the stock market, and cyclical ups and downs can't be fully credited to or blamed on the White House. During President Donald Trump's time in office, however, the stock market soared, earning historic gains and breaking one record after another, and the president used every opportunity to attribute the rally to his election and policies. It was, by the president's own doing, the Trump stock market.
Near the end of 2018, however, that gamble proved risky as stocks began tumbling in October and then plummeting into a full-fledged freefall by year's end. Despite the soaring highs and the frighteningly low lows, some stocks have undoubtedly been winners during Trump's time in office.
Using data from YCharts, Stacker created a list of the 50 best-performing stocks since Trump took office, listed in ascending order from worst-performing to best. Each stock is currently a member of the S&P 500 index and performance is measured by the total return each stock realized between Jan. 20, 2017 and Feb. 4, 2019. Total return includes both stock price appreciation and dividends, and assumes all dividends are reinvested in the stock.
Here's a look at 50 stocks that have hit it big during the Trump presidency.
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#50. S&P Global Inc.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 71.2%
Financial information and analytics firm S&P Global Inc. has four divisions. According to the company's 2018 Investor Fact Book, its Ratings division is responsible for about half its revenue and more than half its profits. S&P Global Ratings was recently approved to rate bonds in China's vast and sprawling interbank bond market. Although Trump's positions on financial dealings and trade with China are only related to that market indirectly, few issues have defined his presidency more thoroughly.
#49. SBA Communications Corp.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 72.8%
SBA Communications Corp. owns and operates wireless communication infrastructure, including cell towers, buildings, and distributed antennae systems. Sometimes it leases that equipment to wireless providers, and sometimes it helps them develop their own sites. The fifth-generation (5G) wireless network concept emerged during the Trump presidency, and in October 2018, the president moved to free up vast swaths of wireless spectrum as providers—like the kind SBA serves—plan their upcoming 5G rollouts.
#48. Total System Services Inc.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 73.9%
TSYS is a credit-card services company that deals in prepaid, acquiring, issuing and merchant solutions. In 2017, shortly after Trump took office, the company increased its full-year revenue and earnings per share guidance not once, but twice. Both top- and bottom-line growth had been booming for more than five years before Trump's election, and the company was flush with cash heading into 2017. In short, TSYS would have been in a strong position moving into the last two years no matter who was in office.
#47. UnitedHealth Group Inc.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 73.9%
Managed health care giant UnitedHealth Group Inc. is the largest health insurer in America and the industry bellwether stock—and in 2017, it had good reason to be optimistic. President Trump, a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, signed an executive order promoting short-term insurance plans that he said could provide an Obamacare alternative. UnitedHealth, which had just posted massive quarterly earnings of 26.3% at the time of the announcement, celebrated the news. The company has extensive experience developing plans like the kind the president proposed and was well positioned to profit from their arrival.
#46. Microsoft Corp.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 75%
In 2017, Microsoft thrived under a change in executive leadership—but not the country's, its own. Incoming CEO Satya Nadella, had been focusing intensely on new growth, and that focus, along with success in the company's cloud computing efforts, combined for stock price increases of more than 30% in 2017 alone. The following year would prove even more lucrative. In 2018, Nadella—an Indian immigrant—became one of the most outspoken critics of Trump's immigration policies, particularly those that separated families.
#45. Visa Inc.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 75.1%
Financial services giant Visa is synonymous with credit cards, and candidate Trump ran, in part, on rolling back credit-related rules and regulations the Obama administration and Congress enacted in the wake of the 2008 recession. In 2018, President Trump delivered on that promise when he signed a bill that once again de-regulated the financial industry. While companies like Visa certainly favored the move, it's important to note that there wasn't a direct cause-and-effect dynamic between the bill and Visa's excellent two-year run. The company's stock posted gains of 46% in 2017—before the bill was signed—and company profits were growing in large part because more people around the world are using Visa cards to make more purchases.
#44. HCA Healthcare Inc.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 75.3%
President Trump's biggest legislative achievement so far has been the Republican-led tax reform passed in 2017. Health care giant HCA, which was already enjoying an industrywide boom in growth and profits, was in a unique position to benefit from that tax reform package. Shortly before Trump signed the bill, HCA stocks soared when JPMorgan told its clients that the company's earnings per share could jump by 30% if the bill passed. The logic was that unlike every other major player in the industry, HCA earned virtually all of its income in the U.S. and paid the full U.S. corporate tax rate, putting it in a unique position to realize massive tax savings under the new law.
#43. Illumina Inc.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 75.8%
The company Illumina Inc. operates at the intersection of biology and technology, applying genomics and array-based genetic analysis in fields like cancer research and agriculture. While its stock was flat in 2015 and downright terrible in 2016, in 2017 it skyrocketed up by 71%. The extraordinary growth can be traced mostly to a strong rollout of the company's innovative NovaSeq gene-sequencing system. Perhaps even more impressive, however, was the desktop gene-sequencing system it developed, which at an asking price of less than $20,000 was within the reach of as many as 35,000 new customers entering the next-generation sequencing field.
#42. Estee Lauder Companies Inc.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 76.2%
In 2004, future President Trump partnered with fragrance, cosmetics, and hair care giant Estee Lauder to launch Donald Trump, the Fragrance—you can still score a bottle on eBay for $45. The company had a banner two years during Trump's time in office, although it was more in spite of Trump's policies than because of them. The company acknowledged in 2018 that slowing growth in China combined with retaliatory tariffs imposed by the Chinese government had made doing business there more difficult. Even still, Estee Lauder predicted that demand for affordable cosmetics and personal products would be so high in the world's second-largest economy that the company would still realize huge growth and profits from the massive Chinese market.
#41. PerkinElmer Inc.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 77.8%
Life science research and diagnostics company PerkinElmer is one of the best-performing MedTech stocks during President Trump's time in office. In 2017, it more than doubled the S&P and beat its own industry's performance by a long shot. Part of the reason for the surge is the company's acquisition of Euroimmun Laboratory Diagnostics AG, which sent diagnostic sales soaring, while also bolstering PerkinElmer's portfolio with autoimmune and allergy testing capabilities.2018 All rights reserved.