America’s Most and Least Successful Companies in 2016

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

3. Freeport-McMoran (NYSE: FCX)
> YTD stock price change: 120.7%
> Latest FY revenue: $15.87 billion
> Forecasted FY revenue: $15.78 billion
> Sector: Materials

Freeport-McMoran explores and extracts oil and gas as well as precious metals such as gold, silver, and copper. The company is among the top performing on the S&P 500 in 2016 and one of few stocks to more than double in price. At the end of last year, the company owned an estimated 99.5 billion pounds of copper, 271.2 million ounces of silver, and 27.1 million ounces of gold — the prices of all these commodities rose in 2016. Gains in these markets helped offset the company’s losses in its oil and gas segment, due to declining oil prices in recent years.

In addition to strong performance in certain commodities markets, investors were also likely encouraged by the company’s concerted effort to reduce debt. Freeport-McMoran in November sold some $2.7 billion in assets and much of the proceeds went toward debt reduction.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

> YTD stock price change: 136.1%
> Latest FY revenue: $7.76 billion
> Forecasted FY revenue: $11.02 billion
> Sector: Energy

Due to the glut in oil, crude prices plunged in 2015 and remained low throughout 2016, leading to severe declines across the sector. Despite this, one segment — the installation of pipelines and construction of natural gas processing plants — remains strong in the United States. Diversified energy company Oneok has not only relied on the strength of the sector, but also expanded its growth opportunities. In a vote of confidence from investors, the company’s share price has more than doubled since the beginning of the year. According to the company, the recently completed Lonesome Creek natural gas processing plant, which has capacity to process 200 million cubic feet per day, helped increase output. In March, Oneok also completed the first phase of an expansion of its Midwestern Gas Transmission, a 400-mile natural gas pipeline. The expansion improved the company’s ability to serve markets in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, southern Illinois, and Chicago.

> YTD stock price change: 201.1%
> Latest FY revenue: $5.01 billion
> Forecasted FY revenue: $7.90 billion
> Sector: Technology

Semiconductor company Nvidia has been the best performing S&P 500 stock this year, as the chipmaker’s stock price has more than tripled since January. Nvidia manufactures chips for the gaming, professional visualization, data, mobile and automotive markets. With improving graphics capabilities, the shift to cloud computing, and ongoing developments in the auto industry from the likes of Google and Tesla, analysts largely agree that these industries will continue to grow as will their demand for chips. The U.S. gaming industry, for example, is projected to grow approximately 5% each year through 2020, according to consulting giant PwC. Nvidia’s data center business is also performing very well, with its second quarter 2016 revenue more than double the segment’s second quarter 2015 revenue.