> YTD Gain: 41%
NortonLifeLock Inc. (NASDAQ: NLOK) is making a name for itself among cybersecurity providers. Scammers and phishing attempts have increased since the onset of the pandemic, looking to play on people’s irrationality and fears. Luckily, NortonLifeLock acts to stop this with its subscription service providing protection for devices and identity threat protection. Although this stock fell hard in early February, it has steadily been on the rise despite pandemic concerns. Dealing with a hack attack or an identity threat on top of worrying about the coronavirus would be too much to deal with at the same time.
> YTD Gain: 30%
Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA) has become king of graphics processors and is set to benefit from artificial intelligence and machine learning, crypto-mining efforts, self-driving cars and many other future tech applications. None of these fields is believed to be a dead-end road after the coronavirus pandemic passes. Its shares just hit an all-time high in May, and one fresh analyst call still sees the shares going much higher. Nvidia has managed this when many tech and chip stocks are still down 10% or 20% from their highs. Chip rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) has to be given a runner-up nod here, with its 21% gain so far in 2020 and a close to 40% rise from its March lows.
> YTD Gain: 30%
PayPal Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL) is now no longer part of eBay. The payments platform has seen very soft spending trends bring softness in volumes and revenue in some verticals, but total payment volumes in general are on the rise. With more people shopping at home or online, PayPal is proving to be a stickier payment method than some industry watchers may have feared when so many upstarts were going to be competitive threats. PayPal’s big acquisition of Honey for online coupons on e-commerce websites also added more than 10 million users instantly to its ranks. Leaving Facebook’s Libra crypto effort had zero impact long term.
> YTD Gain: 62%
Peloton Interactive Inc. (NASDAQ: PTON) has seen its shares and revenues surge after beating revenue expectations due to more people choosing to exercise at home. Many investors believe that accelerated purchases will represent an even greater shift to home-based fitness over large gyms where viruses and other germs await. It remains debatable how long the behavior change in exercise will last, but if the trend accelerates then Pelton wins with its spin-bike and with its treadmill and newer apps for TVs, tablets and computers.
> YTD Gain: 19%
SBA Communications Corp. (NASDAQ: SBAC) has been the top performer in cell towers and communications platforms for wireless communications. Many investors are excited about the more widespread 5G launch, and now the unknown of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger has been removed. Crown Castle International Corp. (NYSE: CCI) and American Tower Corp. (NYSE: AMT) both deserve an honorable mention, with single-digit gains in 2020. SBA is roughly half the size of Crown Castle and not quite one-third the size of American Tower.
> YTD Gain: 29%
ServiceNow Inc. (NYSE: NOW) is another tech stock that has been gaining more ground during this pandemic. For those late to the party, note that ServiceNow provides enterprise cloud services and IT service management, and both of these are absolutely essential. With more companies having their employees work from home, the cloud has become increasingly important as a way to collaborate and do business. ServiceNow stock only recently has hit all-time highs. If work from home becomes the “new normal,” then this company will have a growing steady stream of business for years to come.
> YTD Gain: 85%
Shopify Inc. (NYSE: SHOP) has taken the e-commerce and back office for website management to the next level. Shopify was taking off in a major way before the recession, but COVID-19 just forced companies that were still putting off their online focus to address it immediately. The Canadian company helps small and midsize businesses selling products and services look and act almost the same as large companies they would be competing against. It helps with all aspects of the behind-the-scenes on websites and allows for commerce in multiple currencies across multiple geographies. Shopify also has become stronger in fulfillment centers, and it just raised an opportunistic $1.5 billion after a big stock gain to bolster its finances while it builds up for even more growth ahead.