Conventional wisdom has long held that the president doesn't control the performance of the stock market, and cyclical ups and downs can't be fully credited to or blamed on the White House. During President Donald Trump's time in office, however, the stock market soared, earning historic gains and breaking one record after another, and the president used every opportunity to attribute the rally to his election and policies. It was, by the president's own doing, the Trump stock market.
Near the end of 2018, however, that gamble proved risky as stocks began tumbling in October and then plummeting into a full-fledged freefall by year's end. Despite the soaring highs and the frighteningly low lows, some stocks have undoubtedly been winners during Trump's time in office.
Using data from YCharts, Stacker created a list of the 50 best-performing stocks since Trump took office, listed in ascending order from worst-performing to best. Each stock is currently a member of the S&P 500 index and performance is measured by the total return each stock realized between Jan. 20, 2017 and Feb. 4, 2019. Total return includes both stock price appreciation and dividends, and assumes all dividends are reinvested in the stock.
Here's a look at 50 stocks that have hit it big during the Trump presidency.
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Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 71.2%
Financial information and analytics firm S&P Global Inc. has four divisions. According to the company's 2018 Investor Fact Book, its Ratings division is responsible for about half its revenue and more than half its profits. S&P Global Ratings was recently approved to rate bonds in China's vast and sprawling interbank bond market. Although Trump's positions on financial dealings and trade with China are only related to that market indirectly, few issues have defined his presidency more thoroughly.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 72.8%
SBA Communications Corp. owns and operates wireless communication infrastructure, including cell towers, buildings, and distributed antennae systems. Sometimes it leases that equipment to wireless providers, and sometimes it helps them develop their own sites. The fifth-generation (5G) wireless network concept emerged during the Trump presidency, and in October 2018, the president moved to free up vast swaths of wireless spectrum as providers—like the kind SBA serves—plan their upcoming 5G rollouts.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 73.9%
TSYS is a credit-card services company that deals in prepaid, acquiring, issuing and merchant solutions. In 2017, shortly after Trump took office, the company increased its full-year revenue and earnings per share guidance not once, but twice. Both top- and bottom-line growth had been booming for more than five years before Trump's election, and the company was flush with cash heading into 2017. In short, TSYS would have been in a strong position moving into the last two years no matter who was in office.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 73.9%
Managed health care giant UnitedHealth Group Inc. is the largest health insurer in America and the industry bellwether stock—and in 2017, it had good reason to be optimistic. President Trump, a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, signed an executive order promoting short-term insurance plans that he said could provide an Obamacare alternative. UnitedHealth, which had just posted massive quarterly earnings of 26.3% at the time of the announcement, celebrated the news. The company has extensive experience developing plans like the kind the president proposed and was well positioned to profit from their arrival.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 75%
In 2017, Microsoft thrived under a change in executive leadership—but not the country's, its own. Incoming CEO Satya Nadella, had been focusing intensely on new growth, and that focus, along with success in the company's cloud computing efforts, combined for stock price increases of more than 30% in 2017 alone. The following year would prove even more lucrative. In 2018, Nadella—an Indian immigrant—became one of the most outspoken critics of Trump's immigration policies, particularly those that separated families.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 75.1%
Financial services giant Visa is synonymous with credit cards, and candidate Trump ran, in part, on rolling back credit-related rules and regulations the Obama administration and Congress enacted in the wake of the 2008 recession. In 2018, President Trump delivered on that promise when he signed a bill that once again de-regulated the financial industry. While companies like Visa certainly favored the move, it's important to note that there wasn't a direct cause-and-effect dynamic between the bill and Visa's excellent two-year run. The company's stock posted gains of 46% in 2017—before the bill was signed—and company profits were growing in large part because more people around the world are using Visa cards to make more purchases.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 75.3%
President Trump's biggest legislative achievement so far has been the Republican-led tax reform passed in 2017. Health care giant HCA, which was already enjoying an industrywide boom in growth and profits, was in a unique position to benefit from that tax reform package. Shortly before Trump signed the bill, HCA stocks soared when JPMorgan told its clients that the company's earnings per share could jump by 30% if the bill passed. The logic was that unlike every other major player in the industry, HCA earned virtually all of its income in the U.S. and paid the full U.S. corporate tax rate, putting it in a unique position to realize massive tax savings under the new law.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 75.8%
The company Illumina Inc. operates at the intersection of biology and technology, applying genomics and array-based genetic analysis in fields like cancer research and agriculture. While its stock was flat in 2015 and downright terrible in 2016, in 2017 it skyrocketed up by 71%. The extraordinary growth can be traced mostly to a strong rollout of the company's innovative NovaSeq gene-sequencing system. Perhaps even more impressive, however, was the desktop gene-sequencing system it developed, which at an asking price of less than $20,000 was within the reach of as many as 35,000 new customers entering the next-generation sequencing field.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 76.2%
In 2004, future President Trump partnered with fragrance, cosmetics, and hair care giant Estee Lauder to launch Donald Trump, the Fragrance—you can still score a bottle on eBay for $45. The company had a banner two years during Trump's time in office, although it was more in spite of Trump's policies than because of them. The company acknowledged in 2018 that slowing growth in China combined with retaliatory tariffs imposed by the Chinese government had made doing business there more difficult. Even still, Estee Lauder predicted that demand for affordable cosmetics and personal products would be so high in the world's second-largest economy that the company would still realize huge growth and profits from the massive Chinese market.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 77.8%
Life science research and diagnostics company PerkinElmer is one of the best-performing MedTech stocks during President Trump's time in office. In 2017, it more than doubled the S&P and beat its own industry's performance by a long shot. Part of the reason for the surge is the company's acquisition of Euroimmun Laboratory Diagnostics AG, which sent diagnostic sales soaring, while also bolstering PerkinElmer's portfolio with autoimmune and allergy testing capabilities.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 79.4%
Edwards Lifesciences Corp. is a medical device company that specializes in hemodynamic monitoring and artificial heart valves. It had a banner year in 2017, thanks in part to a six-month stock rally that earned shareholders gains of nearly 20% on top of a five-year historical growth rate of 21.2%. The company also benefited from two key FDA approvals that year, one for the first-in-class Inspiris Resilia aortic valve and the other for the Sapien 3 transcatheter heart valve.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 80.2%
A leader in the global semiconductor industry, Micron Technology shares gained a whopping 88% in 2017, more than tripling in price from the summer of 2016. The following year in 2018, however, Micron lost some of its mojo thanks, in part, to Trump's trade war. The chipmaker's stock tumbled back to Earth a bit when the company's CFO said that Trump's tariffs would hurt Micron's gross margins. Even still, shareholders walked away with gains over 80%.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 80.6%
In 2018, retail chain Kohl's joined other industry heavy hitters like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Macy's, and Ikea in publicly opposing Trump's tariffs. In July 2017, a little more than half a year after Trump took office, Kohl's shares had sunk by nearly 20% for the same reasons so many other retail chains were suffering—changing consumer shopping habits and intense online competition. Less than a year later in June 2018, however, industry analysts were asking whether Kohl's stock had risen too far, with impressive sales driving a furious rally that included a stock price spike of 30% in just three weeks.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 80.8%
By the end of the summer in 2018, the auto industry was in the stock market doghouse, with Ford and GM stock both hitting new lows. Online vehicle auction company Copart Inc, on the other hand, resisted being dragged out with the tide. The company made big moves both at home and overseas during the two previous years, including a venture into Brazil and the celebration of its 200th location in California. It also increased sales by nearly 30% in a single quarter.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 81.1%
Engineering simulation software developer Ansys is in a competitive industry that drummed up 38.9% returns between August 2017–August 2018. Ansys actually beat that high growth rate, albeit only slightly. That's because the energy industry has been hungry for good engineering software like the kind that Ansys develops. Ansys also took on some big partners during Trump's reign, including Ferrari, NVIDIA, and Synopsys, while also investing in a new virtual reality platform when it took on France-based Optis.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 85.6%
Autodesk makes software and virtual reality solutions for the engineering, architecture, manufacturing, and entertainment industries. It realized huge gains over 85% through the last two years thanks, in part, to its shift to a subscription-based business model; but that wasn't the only winning change. Unlike most of its competitors, Autodesk moved from just providing architectural drawings to performing quality control, fabricating parts, and even commissioning a building. Management expects subscriptions to hit 4.9 million in 2020, up from 2.6 million in 2016.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 86.3%
Abbott Laboratories is a health care company that makes pharmaceuticals, medical devices, nutritional products, and diagnostic solutions. Abbott is a Dividend Aristocrat through and through, paying dividends every quarter for 373 quarters straight—that's nearly a century of showing love to shareholders—and those payouts have increased for 45 years straight. The company's lucrative run under President Trump's administration, however, has more to do with its strong acquisitions, like its pickup of St. Jude Medical right around the time Trump took office.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 91.5%
On Feb. 2, 2017, less than a month after President Trump took office, electronic design automation software company Cadence Design Systems Inc. was soaring. Cadence started the year by beating fourth-quarter estimates by a long shot, and the profits only kept growing from there. The main driver behind Cadence's growth was the popularity of the company's exclusive Palladium Z1 enterprise emulation system.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 91.7%
In 2017, the CEO of Cloud data services and data management company NetApp Inc. told Fortune he was concerned that President Trump's policies were "closing off the United States," which worried him, considering that NetApp serves customers in 140 countries. Politics, however, did not prove to be a barrier to success. Most of the company's sales were in the high-margin strategic solutions department, which includes solid-state storage products and cloud-based data management services. Nearly half of the company's massive 91.7% growth during Trump's time in office was achieved in the first half of 2018 alone.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 92.3%
WellCare Health Plans Inc. provides millions of managed health care plans, mostly through Medicare and Medicaid. When President Trump signed an executive order backing short-term insurance plans as an alternative to Obamacare, WellCare shares soared. The company also benefited from better-than-expected profits in 2017, which outdid past analyst expectations.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 92.3%
Intuit makes and sells accounting, tax, and financial software. Much of the company's huge, two-year stock rally can be traced to the Republican tax overhaul, which President Trump signed in 2017. The overhaul included significant and complicated changes to the tax code, which Intuit used to promote its TurboTax software as a solution for both businesses and regular taxpayers.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 92.8%
TransDigm Group Inc. manufactures, develops and sells aerospace and military components. On the day of President Trump's inauguration, shares of the company dropped 13%, which amounted to a loss of $1.4 billion, and made the stock the worst performer on the entire S&P that day. That's because the incoming president vowed to lower the cost of military airplane components—but the scare proved unfounded. The stock quickly bounced back and went on a two-year tear that capped off growth of 150% over five years and a full 800% over a decade.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 95.2%
Progressive is one of the largest auto insurance providers in the world—you know the company from Flo on those television commercials. By the time Progressive hit a new all-time high in 2017, the stock had been on a steady climb since 2009, but that new high would soon be broken. Progressive continued to gobble up new customers throughout Trump's first two years, while also boosting per-share profits by 59% compared to an industry decline of 8%.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 96.2%
HollyFrontier Corp is an oil refiner and producer of gasoline and other petroleum products. In November 2017 alone, the company's shares rose by 20%, representing growth that dramatically outpaced most of its competitors. Not only did the company beat earnings expectations as Trump was settling into the Oval Office, but the company put large sums of money into improving its Rocky Mountain refining operations as well as its Petro-Canada Lubricant division.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 97.8%
Xilinx is the semiconductor company famous for inventing the FPGA, hardware programmable SoCs, and the ACAP. In September 2017, President Trump blocked a Chinese equity firm from taking over an American semiconductor company called Lattice—one of Xilinx's chief competitors. There's no direct link between the president's move to muscle out the Chinese buyer and the fact that Xilinx's returns nearly doubled during Trump's time in office. What is clear, however, is that Xilinx crushed Wall Street estimates, soared to the top of the foundering semiconductor industry, and moved to stake a large claim in the enormous artificial intelligence market.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 98%
Just like Visa, financial services giant Mastercard Inc. likely benefited from President Trump's signing of a bill that relaxed Obama-era regulations on the banking and credit industries. Also like Visa, however, Mastercard's superior growth can largely be credited to a major shift in global consumerism. First, more consumers are making more purchases around the world, and second, more and more of these purchases are made not with cash, but through financial services tools like the kind Mastercard provides.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 98.3%
Lamb Weston Holdings Inc. is one of the world's largest producers of potato products. By October 2018, the company was consistently beating the market. Higher demand for French fries drove some of the growth, which included 12% revenue increases to the tune of $915 million. It's also likely that reduced tax rates after Trump's tax overhaul have helped, too. Either way, the company has enjoyed eight straight quarters of beating both top- and bottom-line Wall Street estimates since spinning off from Conagra in 2016.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 102%
Although it's often referred to as an online retailer, Amazon has its hands in a vast array of industries, including cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and tech hardware. Trump's contentious relationship with the Seattle-based company, as well as its high-profile billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos has followed a familiar pattern since the president took office. Trump tweets an accusatory, threatening, or otherwise hostile message about Amazon or Bezos, Amazon stock momentarily dips and then recovers just as quickly. Trump aside, Amazon is one of Wall Street's greatest success stories, and some analysts think the stock could reach $3,000—$1.5 trillion—by 2020.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 103.1%
Video game holding company Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. owns two major brands: Rockstar Games and 2K. In 2018, in the wake of the Parkland massacre, Trump met with top Take-Two brass along with other video game executives to discuss violence in video games—government officials have long tried to link video games to school shootings, most recently under the Obama administration in the wake of the Newtown massacre. Perceived links to real-work violence aside, Take-Two experienced stunning growth of nearly 123% in 2017, thanks mostly to the highly anticipated release of "Grand Theft Auto V."
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 104.6%
Donald Trump revolutionized the way presidents communicate with the people, and no platform is more closely associated with the unfiltered president than Twitter. In 2018, the social media giant's stock soared 50%, which nearly matched the gains it earned the year before—either one of the stock's back-to-back career years could have represented its biggest annual gains since going public. The company's stock has crushed Facebook, Snapchat, and the rest of its social media peers during Trump's time in office so far.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 106.9%
Managed care enterprise Centene Corp acts as an intermediary for both private and government-sponsored health care programs. One of the biggest drivers of Centene's impressive growth over the last two years was not the result of something President Trump did, but a response to the Democrat's success in the midterm elections. With the House now in the hands of the opposition party, Obamacare is likely to endure, which means Centene's bread and butter of Medicare expansion is likely safe.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 107.3%
On March 14, 2017, MarketWatch reported that Anthem's CEO met with President Trump and "praised the House Republicans' health-care bill for addressing 'the challenges immediately facing the individual market.'" There's no way to say if that meeting helped send the health insurance giant's stock soaring by more than 107% during Trump's time in office. But one thing is certain: The company's move to slash $4 billion in costs by creating its own pharmacy benefit management company played a major role in boosting investor confidence.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 107.5%
Cloud software giant Salesforce grew its revenue by 27% in a single quarter in 2018, and the company's CEO placed the credit squarely on the president and his policies, according to Yahoo Finance. Salesforce's chief executive, Marc Benioff, said the Republican-pushed tax cuts allowed his and other tech companies to dump vast sums of money into digital transformation. Benioff also praised the climate of deregulation.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 108.8%
Electronic measurement company Keysight Technologies Inc. announced a bid to buy a company called Ixia for $1.6 billion, just 10 days after President Trump took office. The acquisition of the software and equipment provider was meant to help Keysight improve its ability to test and monitor its enterprise customers' networks. Those networks are under ever-increasing pressure to smoothly handle the growing mountains of data flowing through cloud computing platforms, social media networks, and smartphones.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 115.3%
Network infrastructure giant VeriSign Inc. got a major boost from the Trump administration in 2018. The National Telecommunications & Information Administration agreed to roll back Obama-era regulations that fixed the price of '.com' domain names, a move that put VeriSign in a position to hike prices on the most prized web addresses. The company holds multi-year contracts to manage both '.com' and '.net' Internet registries.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 116.3%
MSCI Inc. maintains equity indexes that gauge global stock market activity. MSCI in 2017 was incredibly important to China, as the index compiler was poised to add so-called A-Share Chinese stocks to its closely followed Emerging Markets index. By November 2018, MSCI had opened the gates to Chinese stocks.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 119.7%
Peter Thiel, a co-founder of online payment and money transfer provider PayPal, is a vocal supporter of President Trump, but that's not why PayPal has earned a total return of nearly 120% during the president's administration. The company gained 86% in 2017 alone, a lot of which can be credited to a big spike in mobile payments. Investors received even more enticement when the company announced it would likely add 30 million customers in fiscal year 2017, instead of the previously forecast 25 million.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 130%
Almost exactly a year after President Trump took office, multimedia and creativity software giant Adobe joined Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft as only the fourth company in history to achieve a stock market value in excess of $100 billion. The Financial Times reported that the milestone, the crown on a stellar five-year run, can be credited to Trump's tax overhaul. Although Adobe will join other companies in paying a one-off foreign earnings tax charge, it will unlock its overseas cash holdings, much of which the company will be expected to invest back home.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 130.8%
In April 2017, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. was in the news because President Trump nominated to head the FDA Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who had received large sums of money from the drug industry including more than $150,000 in consulting fees from Vertex. By the summer of 2018, Gottlieb had been confirmed and Vertex was one of the hottest stocks in the industry, although the two events were not related. Vertex reported year-over-year revenue increases of 46% and adjusted earnings growth nearing 150% that year. The heart of the Vertex arsenal was its existing cystic fibrosis drugs and pipeline candidates.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 138.0%
The medical technology industry has so much potential that giants like Alphabet and Johnson & Johnson are making moves toward it, but surgical robotics company Intuitive Surgical Inc. still reigns supreme. The heart of the company's offerings—and its $3.3 billion in annual sales—are its da Vinci robotic surgeons. The Trump years are just the latest in a long run of incredible success for Intuitive Surgical. The company went from a market cap of $1.3 billion in 2005 to about $52 billion today.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 140.6%
Enterprise open-source software provider Red Hat Inc. shares a name with President Trump's most famous piece of fan merchandise, but the company's more than 140% two-year return does not have a political affiliation. On Oct. 28, 2018, it was announced that IBM would acquire Red Hat Inc. for $34 billion, or $190 per share. It was the largest software transaction in history. Red Hat, which specializes in custom Linux offerings for corporations, will keep its existing leaders and location, and will function as a standalone unit in IBM's cloud division.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 143.2%
Computer networking company Arista Networks Inc. got a boost in December 2017 when Morgan Stanley increased its target price from 210 to 260. According to Investor's Business Daily, the analyst who made the adjustment cited President Trump's tax package, which would allow Arista and other companies to repatriate overseas cash at a much lower tax rate.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 147.7%
Cybersecurity software developer Fortinet Inc. roared into 2017, gaining more than 12% in February alone, the month after Trump took office. Although the stock was already expensive then, the best was yet to come. Fortinet's biggest asset at that time was its diversity, with its security tentacles reaching from big data servers all the way down to the fitness wearables on your body.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 148.2%
Semiconductor maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. was one of many chip stocks that took a beating when President Trump began targeting Chinese investment in some American tech companies. It was also, however, one of the companies that rallied once a truce was announced in the trade war. All of that was in 2018, long after Apple sent Advanced Micro Devices shares soaring when it announced it would be including the company's technology in its then-new line of iMac Pros. Advanced got another boost when its technology was linked to the mining of cryptocurrency, which at that time was enjoying a historic boom.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 152.7%
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has long criticized President Trump, including a public spat with fellow Facebook board member, PayPal CEO and Trump supporter Peter Thiel—but the Trump era has certainly not been unkind to Netflix shareholders. Two days before Trump was inaugurated, Netflix stock soared after the digital streaming service added millions more subscribers than its own forecasts predicted. Throughout 2017, the good news kept coming and stock prices continued to rise. By the end of 2018, Netflix's value hit $100 billion as the company continued to crush subscriber forecasts.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 157.5%
Shares of wholesale energy company NRGgained 23% in a single day in 2017. The spike was the result of excitement around the company's radical restructuring of its business—and perhaps its entire industry. Activist investors pressured the company into the change, which included dramatically lowering costs and removing $13 billion in debt by selling most of its renewable energy assets.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 160.8%
Boeing stock was already on the march by the summer of 2017 when the company unveiled a stellar report and announced record earnings. By the end of the year, shares were up 89% thanks, in part, to the fact that deliveries of 763 airplanes set an industry record. Operations earnings grew by 99% in just nine months, and production increased dramatically.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 161.3%
Orthodontic medical device maker Align Technology Inc. is probably best known for its Invisalign tooth-aligning product. By the summer of 2018, record-breaking quarters had almost come to be expected from the company, which in July shipped a record number of its gold-standard clear aligners, and reported record earnings and record revenue yet again. Between the second quarters of 2017 and 2018, year-over-year sales increased by nearly 38% and year-over-year net operations income grew by 53.4%.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 194.8%
Medical implant device manufacturer Abiomed Inc. had found incredible success with its minimally invasive heart pumps by the fall of 2017. Both its revenues and profits had continued to soar on a regular basis by then, with GAAP earnings per share growing by 170% between Q2 2017–2018 alone. Abiomed ended the year with $319 million in cash and exactly zero debt.
Total return since Jan. 20, 2017: 253.6%
Biopharmaceutical company Nektar Therapeutics Inc. has done better than any S&P 500 stock during the time that President Trump has been in office. Trump's early vows to cut regulations were good to the industry in general, but Nektar quickly pulled away from the pack. It all started with a plan to seek FDA approval for an opioid painkiller alternative. Before shareholders finished gloating over that bit of good news, however, Nektar revealed solid trial data for a promising immuno-oncology drug—one that the company wholly owned.