Special Report

20 Companies That Turned Their Fortunes Around in 2017

Source: Eli Lilly and Company / Wikimedia Commons

11. Eli Lilly & Co.
> Current stock price: $85.20
> Latest annual revenue: $21.2 billion
> Industry: Pharmaceuticals

Shares of Eli Lilly cratered at $67.71 on Dec. 5, 2016. The Indianapolis, Indiana-based pharmaceutical company has been bedeviled over the past few years by late-stage clinical-trial failures that have slowed the roll out of new drugs in its pipeline. Since David Ricks took over as CEO at the beginning of the year, the company completed two mid-sized acquisitions. Because of the lack of new drugs, Lilly has had to rely on boosting prices on existing drugs before their patents expire, risking the raising the ire of politicians such as Sen. Bernie Sanders. In May Lilly said it was raising prices on nine of its medicines between 6% and 9%, including treatments for a blood thinner, a psoriasis drug, and two insulins. Lilly stock has risen 25% from its floor just over a year ago to $85.20. Lilly reported earnings per share of $3.52 in 2016, and analysts forecast earnings per share to rise to $4.21 in 2017. Sales are predicted to rise to $22.6 billion in 2017 from $21.2 billion in 2016.

12. Valero Energy Corp.
> Current stock price: $92.15
> Latest annual revenue: $75.7 billion
> Industry: Energy

Shares of Valero, America’s largest oil refiner, have rallied along with the price of crude oil. Shares have leaped 93% from their two-year low of $47.73 reached in early July 2016 to $92.15 on Dec. 29. Oil prices have recovered because of the global supply cuts OPEC and non-OPEC producers implemented. Analysts forecast Valero earnings per share to climb to $4.97 in 2017 from $3.72 a year ago. Revenue is expected to rise to $89.4 billion from $75.7 billion last year.

Source: Thinkstock

13. American Express Co.
> Current stock price: $99.73
> Latest annual revenue: $32.1 billion
> Industry: Financial

Investors had concerns about American Express going into 2017. The company was struggling with the loss of a co-branding agreement with price-club Costco, and there were doubts about whether American Express could attract millennial customers. That anxiety was reflected in the stock price, which fell to $52.66 on Feb. 8, 2016. But investors who stayed with AmEx got all of their investment back, and then some, as the shares nearly doubled, trading at $99.73 on Dec. 29. The rebound was bolstered by a co-branding deal with hotel chain Marriott International that also involves JPMorgan Chase. American Express also is getting strong loan growth from its existing cardholders. Analysts predict earnings per share of $5.85 in 2017, an increase of 20 cents from last year. Analysts also expect revenue to increase to $33.3 billion from $32.1 billion.

Source: Thinkstock

14. Caterpillar Inc.
> Current stock price: $158.38
> Latest annual revenue: $38.5 billion
> Industry: Industrial

New CEO Jim Umpleby is remaking heavy machinery giant Caterpillar into a more nimbler, leaner company through cost-cutting moves that have resulted in job cuts and consolidation of facilities. Caterpillar is well positioned to exploit the building boom in the the Asia-Pacific region as well as rebuilding those areas of the country devastated by hurricanes and wildfires earlier this year. The Peoria, Illinois-based company, which is shifting its corporate headquarters to Deerfield, Illinois, would benefit from an infrastructure plan if Congress approves one next year. Investors have pushed Caterpillar shares up to $158.38 on Dec. 29 from their trough of $82.31 on Oct. 31, 2016. Analysts expect earnings per share to soar to $6.45 in 2017 from $3.42 in 2016 and revenue to climb to $44.1 billion from $38.5 billion.

Source: firstsolar.com

15. First Solar Inc.
> Current stock price: $67.79
> Latest annual revenue: $2.95 billion
> Industry: Energy

The future of renewable energy is bright, and First Solar looks to be a major player in that sector. Renewables accounted for almost two-thirds of new power capacity worldwide in 2016, according to the International Energy Agency. Global new solar photovoltaics capacity grew by 50% last year. After a forgettable 2016 in which the stock lost more than half of its value, shares of Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar have climbed 161% to a 2017-high of $70.02 on Dec. 4. In its most recent quarter, First Solar said sales leaped 72% to $1.1 billion from $636 million in the prior quarter, primarily because of the sale of its California Flats and Cuyama projects, as well as higher module sales. Earlier this month, the company announced it entered into an agreement to supply its thin film modules that will be installed in a solar power plant in Pakistan. More analysts are convinced by First Solar’s prospects. Since July, four analysts have upgraded First Solar shares.

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