CME pays a regular dividend of 60 cents a share and will likely pay a special dividend at year-end. That could lift the total payout to $5.67 a share in 2017, estimates Bank of America Merrill Lynch, giving the stock a hefty 5.1% yield.
A real estate investment trust, Crown Castle leases space on nearly 40,000 cell-phone towers to wireless carriers, such as AT&T and Verizon. Income is climbing as customers consume more data on mobile devices. Cable providers such as Charter Communications and Comcast also plan to roll out wireless service in 2017, boosting demand for space on cell-phone towers. As a REIT, Crown Castle must shell out at least 90% of its taxable income to investors. Paying $3.80 per share, the stock yields 4.4%.
The S&P 500 index's top performers were no match for Bitcoin's meteoric rise in 2017, but some S&P 500 members still generated boast-worthy returns. Did you own any of the market's best-performing stocks in 2017 Here are the 25 stocks that padded investors' pockets the most this year.
Metal braces still dominate the market, but Align Technology's (ALGN 7.15%) Invisalign clear aligners are starting to get used in increasingly complex cases, and that's driving tremendous sales growth. Annualized revenue has more than doubled since 2012, and management thinks sales could reach $2 billion in 2020. In 2017, the company made good headway toward that target. Sales were $1.1 billion through the first nine months of the year, up from $787 million in the same period of 2016. The company's increasingly profitable, too. Net income surged to $221 million in the first nine months from $142 million a year ago. Given its market share is still only about 10%, it's easy to understand why investors made Align Technology this year's best-performing S&P 500 stock.
Once the poster child for how utilities will succeed in the green economy, NRG Energy (NRG 2.51%) shares fell out of favor heading into 2017. In a bid to kick-start shares, NRG's board forced out management, and earlier this year, it announced plans to sell assets and pay down debt. Its strategy includes cutting $1.06 billion in costs, selling between $2.5 billion and $4 billion of assets, and eventually eliminating $13 billion in debt. The restructuring has investors cheering, but it remains to be seen if abandoning renewables and doubling down on fossil fuels will be a savvy long-term decision.
Potential tariffs had customers flocking to secure access to First Solar's (FSLR 1.96%) thin-film solar panels in 2017, and that had investors seeing green. If the U.S. cracks down on Chinese imports, it will be a big win for First Solar, but it may not be entirely clear skies ahead for the company. Competitors are hard at work developing new products that could diminish First Solar's efficiency advantages, and First Solar's transition to its series 6 model could crimp revenue in the short term next year. Nevertheless, any tariff outcome that puts Chinese imports at a disadvantage is good news, and since the company's booked 6.7 GW of panel shipments this year, or about three years worth of current production capacity, it appears First Solar's got all the business it can handle for a while.
Since late 2016, Vertex Pharmaceuticals' (VRTX 0.93%) cystic fibrosis drugs have been approved for use in increasingly more patients, and that growing addressable market translated into significant sales and profit growth in 2017. When it won approval of its first cystic fibrosis drug in 2012, it only addressed patients with one specific gene mutation. Since then, approvals have increased the number of mutations that its drugs can address to 33. Eventually, Vertex Pharmaceuticals thinks its drugs could help about 90% of cystic fibrosis patients. If so, it would be a boon to business. Revenue was up 34% year over year in the third quarter, and as a result, management upped its full-year sales target to at least $2.1 billion from at least $1.9 billion previously. As its drugs get used more and revenue gets leveraged against fixed costs, earnings could expand significantly, and that's undeniably got investors excited.
An increasingly connected world is creating massive demand for Micron's (MU -4.36%) memory and flash storage. Management projects industrywide demand for memory from data centers, cloud networks, mobile networks, and client computing will boost DRAM and NAND by 20% and 50% in 2018, respectively. In fiscal Q1, Micron's sales and earnings outpaced industry expectations, fueling speculation that Micron's in a perfect position to profit from that trend. Sales climbed 71% year over year to $6.8 billion in the quarter, and adjusted earnings per share reached $2.45, a sixfold increase from one year ago. Analysts were only looking for sales of $6.4 billion and EPS of $2.19, so people may still be underestimating this company's potential. Having said that, investors ought to be little cautious because, historically, the memory market is prone to both big booms and big busts.
A crackdown by China has crimped gambling activity in Macau in recent years, but it appears Macau's bouncing back. After opening Wynn Palace in 2016, Wynn Resorts' (WYNN 2.67%) market share has grown to about 14% in Macau, so a recovery there has been very good news for investors this year. In Q3 alone, Wynn Resorts' revenue grew 45.3% to $1.6 billion, and net income hit $80 million, or $0.78 per share. In the future, the company's revenue could benefit from new projects, including a new casino in Boston, Massachusetts, and the potential to build a casino in Japan. Recently, it bought a tract of land in Las Vegas that could allow it to grow there, too. Overall, increasing global wealth is good for casino revenue, but a repeat of 2017's performance will depend on whether or not Macau heats up or cools down from here.
Boeing (BA 0.66%) came into 2017 with a 3.7% dividend yield that was high enough to make it one of 2017's Dogs of the Dow stocks. Investors who bought shares because of Boeing's high dividend yield ended up making a lot more money from price appreciation than quarterly payments, though. A 7% increase in commercial plane deliveries in the past year contributed to Boeing's soaring share price. A 2.6% year-over-year increase in backlog has helped, too. Boeing's attractiveness, though, likely stems more from its dividend-friendly cash flow than anything else. It increased dividends by 25% in 2014, 20% in 2015, 30% in 2016, and by another 20% in December. At 2.3%, the company's current dividend yield isn't high enough to land it on the Dogs of the Dow list again in 2018, but that yield's still better than the S&P 500's.
Retailers are looking for more ways to grow their e-commerce revenue, and one way they're doing that is by offering consumers more flexibility when it comes to payments. In 2017, PayPal's (PYPL 2.08%) One Touch helped it capitalize on that trend. One Touch allows users to register devices with PayPal and then purchase goods and services from participating merchants with just one click. Due in part to One Touch's success, PayPal's mobile payment volume surged 54% higher year over year to $40 billion in the third quarter and its total payment volume increased 30% to $114 billion. The company's peer-to-peer platform, Venmo, is also exciting investors. Person-to-Person (P2P) volume grew 47% to $24 billion in the third quarter, and while PayPal isn't monetizing Venmo yet, the potential to do so in the future has fueled interest in PayPal's shares.
When it came to home sales in 2017, job and wage growth trumped rising interest rates. New home sales hit 10-year highs in October, and in November, sales of new, single-family homes jumped 26.6% year over year. D.R. Horton (DHI 2.58%), the nation's biggest homebuilder, was a big beneficiary of spiking sales and, correspondingly, increasing home prices. For instance, its total net new orders increased 11.8% to 10,333 units, and total closings rose 7.5% to 13,165 in its recently finished fiscal fourth quarter. The company's $3.73 billion backlog value has management thinking revenue will eclipse $15.5 billion in fiscal 2018, up from $14.1 billion in fiscal 2017. If it hits that mark, then 2018 could be a good year for investors, too; despite the threat of higher interest rates.
Nvidia's (NVDA 1.44%) next-generation graphics processing chips are fueling the development of increasingly realistic and engaging video games, but it's not just video gaming that's benefiting from advances in processing power and speed. In May, Nvidia launched Volta, its next-generation architecture, and data centers eager to better analyze and generate insight from mountains of data will be among the first to deploy it. Nvidia's solutions are also enabling the development of increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence products across defense, automotive, and the Internet-of-Everything. Growing demand across all of these opportunities drove sales higher this year. For example, gaming sales jumped 25% year over year to $2.64 billion, data center sales grew 20% quarter to quarter to $501 million, and automotive sales grew 13% year over year in the third quarter of 2017 alone.
D.R. Horton (No. 9 on the list) wasn't the only homebuilder to ride a wave of home buying to market-beating returns in 2017; PulteGroup (PHM 2.64%) saw its shares soar, too. Through the first nine months of 2017, PulteGroup's revenue clocked in at $5.8 billion, up from $5.2 billion in 2016, and its earnings per share improved to $1.18 from $0.95. Like D.R. Horton, a big backlog suggests PulteGroup's momentum could carry over into 2018. Net new orders grew 11% in Q3 2017, and its backlog includes 10,823 homes with an average selling price of $431,000, the highest average price in 10 years.
One of the few health insurers to be expanding its presence on the Obamacare health insurance exchanges, Centene Corp's (CNC -1.44%) shares surged last year as acquisitions expanded it into new counties and states. The company still makes most of its money running state Medicaid programs, though, and revenue from that market has climbed significantly following Medicaid expansion in over 30 states. Centene's focus on Medicaid means it makes less in profit per member than peers selling employer-based plans, so its selling, general, and administrative expenses are lower than those of many competing health insurers. Reform that crimps Medicaid enrollment is the company's biggest risk, but that risk has turned out to be the biggest tailwind to its shares in 2017. Efforts to reform Medicaid fell flat in Donald Trump's first full year in office, and that's got investors thinking that any changes to Medicaid that get made won't be as bad as initially feared. 59ce067264