> YTD Gain: 7%
Hormel Foods Corp. (NYSE: HRL) stock is holding just below its all-time high as a result of recent consumer trends toward stockpiling food. Considering Hormel is one of the largest producers of canned goods in the Continental United States, it stands to benefit from people clearing the shelves at grocery stores. Also, as long as restaurants are closed or not at full capacity, Hormel offers an alternative.
> YTD Gain: 13%
J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE: SJM) shares might be down from where they were last year but the prospect is brighter now. With more people staying home and not eating out constantly, brand name goods are moving off the shelves. Even though shares were hit hard in late March, the stock bounced back and then some tearing through April. Again, if the new normal is less consumers going out to restaurants, then J.M. Smucker will be well positioned going into this new economy. And with a name like Smucker, its stock better be good too.
> YTD Gain: 15%
Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) has been an interesting story during this time. From February to late March, this stock was not able to make up its mind. However, since that time it has performed exceedingly well as one of the go-to grocery stores during this pandemic. Even with this influx of business, Kroger offers investors an interesting value proposition and defended its dividend, but don’t take our word for it. Kroger has earned Warren Buffett’s stamp of approval and a place in his portfolio. A nod like this from the Oracle of Omaha is reassuring for any business, and it is sure to provide for many years of great returns down the road if Buffett’s bet is correct.
> YTD Gain: 31%
MarketAxess Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: MKTX) has managed to prove that trading in bonds may not be as boring as it sounds. The company operates an electronic trading platform for fixed-income market participants to buy and sell corporate bonds and other types of fixed-income instruments around the globe. This includes credit default swaps, emerging markets and high-yield bonds, eurobonds, U.S. agency bonds, municipal bonds, leveraged loans, Treasuries, green bonds and other types of fixed-income securities. In short, this company is effectively defragmenting bond trading and increasing institutional liquidity with its own trading platform.
> YTD Gain: 15%
Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) is so far beyond just being that Windows software company. The company still prints money from dominating PCs in business, but individuals have taken to subscribing to its software offerings as well. Microsoft has a coming Xbox refresh due this year; it owns LinkedIn; its Microsoft Teams is ready to be a standalone product, as has been proven in the work-at-home climate; and the real story is Azure, which still looks to be a favorite over Amazon’s AWS in the Defense Department’s $10 billion JEDI contract. Satya Nadella’s strategies proved to work and Microsoft has ample growth opportunities ahead.
> YTD Gain: 33%
Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) has proven that there really was room for more than one major streaming service. It has grown despite the impressive growth of Disney+ and the competition from Apple and Amazon. Netflix still has many opportunities to grow outside of the United States, and it turns out that it has created some fabulous movies and multiple multiseason series that keep people glued to their screens. Is it any surprise that use and engagement have risen in 2020? The service is priced well enough that it’s unlikely the millions of people who lost their jobs are going to cut off their Netflix accounts even if their kids insist on the Disney+ service also. With it about 182 million worldwide subscribers, the stay-at-home trend will have pulled forward some of the growth that would have been expected in future quarters. Buts stock rose over 50% since the Disney+ launch date caused so much panic.
> YTD Gain: 43%
Newmont Corp. (NYSE: NEM) is the king of gold miners, now that Newmont and Goldcorp are one company. It has perhaps the strongest gold reserves, low all-in sustaining costs for mining gold, and every $100 move up in gold gives that much more in earnings. The company also has been weathering the COVID-19 exposure rather well, and it was able to boost its dividend based on the recent gains. Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: GOLD) gets an honorable mention, given many of the same characteristics. Of course, there is also just the good old SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEARCA: GLD) that is the largest gold trust for investors in the world. with close to $60 billion in gold bars.