S&P 500 Biggest Gainers and Losers of 2023

S&P 500 Biggest Gainers and Losers of 2023
S&P 500 Biggest Gainers and Losers of 2023

S&P 500 Biggest Gainers and Losers of 2023, KEY TAKEAWAYS

Overview of 2023

2023 was a banner year for U.S. equities as measured by the S&P 500 index, especially technology stocks, which benefited from rising demand for artificial intelligence (AI) products.

The end of the industry slump caused by COVID-19 lockdowns also helped lift shares of transportation companies in the S&P 500.

Market Close on Last Day

The last trading day of 2023 was a loser for U.S. equities, with the S&P 500 dropping 0.3%. However, the down day didn't dampen the outcome for the year as the index skyrocketed 24% in 2023.

As the last day of 2023 trading ends, we look at the companies in the S&P 500 that gained and lost the most in the year.

Top Gainers

This was a big year for tech stocks, especially all things related to artificial intelligence (AI). Demand for AI products soared, as the new technology became the "next big thing" for Wall Street in 2023. That trend fueled some of the highest-gaining stocks in the S&P 500 this year.

Nvidia - AI Dominance

No company benefited more from the AI boom than Nvidia Corp. (NVDA).

The stock surged more than 254%, far above the next highest gainer and the largest percentage growth in the S&P 500 for the year. The chipmaker's market capitalization crossed the $1 trillion mark, making it the fifth most valuable U.S. corporation.

Meta Platforms - Social Media Soars

Facebook's parent, Meta Platforms Inc. (META), faced challenges in 2023, but that didn't stop its stock from almost tripling in price this year.

As with Nvidia, the company got a boost from AI, but the main driver of the excitement over the social media giant came in February when Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg declared 2023 to be Meta's "year of efficiency" after its shares got punished in 2022. The cost-cutting moves that followed helped send Meta shares soaring.

Royal Caribbean Group - Travel Rebounds

The end of the lockdowns and other restrictions related to COVID-19 was a boon for the travel industry, especially cruise lines, which essentially shut down for months during the pandemic.

The shares of Royal Caribbean Group (RCL), along with rivals Carnival Corp. (CCL) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH), have gained from pent-up demand from travelers who were stuck at home because of the outbreak. Royal Caribbean stock rose more than 165%, while competitors Carnival Corp. rose more than 132% and Norwegian ended the year up roughly 69%.

Builders FirstSource - Unexpected Growth

One might not think that technology would drive the growth of a building supplies provider, but that was the case for Builders FirstSource Inc. (BLDR).

During the year, the company increased its digital investments and was also helped by acquisitions and product mix. In addition, its shares' price increased after the announcement this month from S&P Dow Jones Indices that it would be added to the S&P 500 on Dec. 18.

Uber - Rise of Ride-Hailing

Like the cruise lines, Uber Technologies Inc. (UBER) was also a winning recipient of reopenings that followed the ending of COVID-19 restrictions.

Along with Builders FirstSource, the ride-hailing service also gained from being included in the S&P 500 in mid-December. The stock was up roughly 142% for the year.

Top Losers

While the overall market advanced, inflation, high-interest rates, and falling demand for COVID-19 treatments were among the reasons some stocks tumbled the most in 2023.

FMC Corp. - Agricultural Struggles

FMC Corp. (FMC) stock took a more than 49% hit this year, wiping out much of the gains of the past few years.

The agricultural chemical manufacturer's stock did take an uptick in November after it unveiled a strategic plan. The company rolled out new products and said it would do a strategic review of non-core assets.

Enphase Energy Inc. - Green Energy Challenges

Enphase Energy Inc.'s (ENPH) troubles were typical of many in the "green" energy sector.

The solar power equipment maker was hurt by high-interest rates and soaring home prices, which made adding solar panels to homes more expensive. In addition, a change in the law in California, by far the biggest state for solar panels, was a blow to the industry. The state reduced the payments homeowners receive from utilities for feeding power to the grid, making having the panels less attractive.

Dollar General Corp. - Consumer Behavior Shift

A change in consumer behavior driven by high inflation had a significant impact on Dollar General Corp. (DG).

The discount retailer was down roughly 45% this year, as the company said shoppers were spending more money on food and other low-margin items, and not on products that bring in more cash. Dollar General also said it was going to bring back checkout employees because its reliance on self-checkout led to increased theft.

Moderna and Pfizer - Vaccine Market Shift

The wind-down of the pandemic wasn't necessarily good news for the makers of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines.

Shares of the two biggest providers, Moderna Inc. (MRNA) and Pfizer Inc. (PFE), both struggled as fewer people needed vaccines and many opted out of getting additional boosters. This led their stock prices down roughly 44% in 2023.