Year-end reviews provide hindsight into the market. They allow investors to examine which investments did well, and which was better left out of the portfolio.
With an increasingly interdependent global economy, Americans’ investing portfolios are also increasingly tied to global trends. This year, the strengthening of the U.S. dollar, the low price of oil, and the struggling of emerging markets had broad-reaching effects on investments. Based on 2015 performance of individual investments in seven major investment classes — mutual funds, ETFs, large cap stocks, IPOs, commodities, currencies, and fixed income mutual funds — 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the best and worst investments in 2015.
Betting on commodities has been largely unprofitable in 2015, with the S&P GSCI — a widely tracked commodities index — down 32.7% so far this year. Speculators who sold short the dollar have also been hit. The U.S. dollar is up against virtually every currency in the world.
In each of the seven asset classes, despite being volatile or relative stable, some investments provided great returns, while others provided considerable losses. While the S&P 500 index remained largely unchanged over the course of the year, the price of some stocks shot up while the price of others took a nose-dive. The best performing stock so far in 2015, Netflix, increased in value by more than 150%, while shares of Southwestern Energy Company declined by more than 80%.
Some of these investments, regardless of the asset class, failed or succeeded for similar reasons. The sharp declines in the prices of oil and natural gas, for example, has had far-reaching implications. While oil prices dropped the most of any commodity, many related stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds also took a major hit.
The drop in oil and natural gas prices was also the reason investing in the Venezuelan bolivar was the worst performing currency in 2015 relative to the U.S. dollar. The Venezuelan economy relies heavily on its substantial oil reserves, and the plummeting value of oil has devastated the country’s economy.
In order to identify the best investments of 2015, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from a number of sources. Figures on mutual funds and ETF returns are from Morningstar. We excluded ETFs that aim to provide leveraged, or inverse-leveraged daily returns from our consideration. To determine bond fund returns, we screened for bond funds exclusively. Figures on large cap stocks represent securities that are part of the S&P 500. Data on IPOs are from The Motley Fool, and returns on IPOs assume the investor bought shares at the IPO price. Currency data are from Google Finance. Year-to-date returns are all as of December 7, 2015.
These are the best (and worst) investments of 2015.