Stocks at large are still 7% away from taking out their all-time peaks, but some fast climbers Monday on Wall Street are already reaching rarefied air.
Fanned by optimistic feelings about online shopping, Amazon.com soared $9.31 to a record close of $268.46. But the list of stocks hitting untouched levels is growing and goes well beyond the cyberboundaries of the Internet. Among the Standard & Poor's 500, 34 stocks are at record highs or just 1% away, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ.
The list of companies breaking new ground includes credit card companies MasterCard and Visa, medical companies Celgene and Gilead Sciences and industrial companies such as Flowserve and Roper. The stocks beating the market in taking out their all-time highs "are absolutely at the front of the pack," says David Sowerby of Loomis Sayles.
Some of the areas of the market to be swept into high territory include:
Medical leaders. Celgene, a biotech firm developing treatments for cancer and other diseases, Monday closed 3% above its previous all-time high, the best showing among all S&P 500 stocks. The stock has been a big winner in part because it's generating strong revenue and earnings growth, making it a standout in the somewhat sluggish pharmaceutical world, says John Eade, analyst at Argus Research. Meanwhile, investors appreciate that the company has a road map of milestones going out five years and has several blockbusters now, he says.
Payment kings. MasterCard set a high Monday, and Visa is just 0.1% away from doing the same as the companies enjoy strong growth in the U.S. in the shift away from cash payments, says Wayne Johnson of Raymond James. Meanwhile, more consumers are using credit cards vs. debit cards, and that's more profitable for the companies, he says.
Industrial and consumer-product leaders. Showing it's not just high-tech industries soaring back, a number of leaders are emerging from both behind-the-scenes industrial businesses and marquee consumer brands. Flowserve, which makes products to control the movement of industrial goods, is just 0.1% away from a high as investors appreciate its strong backlog and its focus on boosting efficiency, says David Rose of Wedbush Securities. Jam maker J.M. Smucker and Hershey are just 0.3% away from all-time highs as they enhance their bottom lines.
Seeing such strong performances from individual stocks might coax investors back and help the rest of the market, Sowerby says. These stocks "have to be the catalyst to improve the mistrust in stocks," he says.
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