Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Home Depot (NYSE: HD) Lead Dow Higher in 2012
Despite souring investor confidence, some stocks have performed incredibly well in the past year. As they year 2012 draws to a close, market observers have begun to look for the key story lines from the year – from the election to the fiscal cliff, from the London whale to the rebound of financial service stocks, the year has been full of interesting story lines. While confidence in the banking sector remains low, it also is home to the Dow’s best performer of 012 – Bank of America (NYSE: BAC).
With one trading day left in the year, Bank of America has advanced 107.3% for the year, more than doubling last year’s year end price. Chief Executive Brian Moynihan has taken significant measures to right the ship, closing unprofitable branches and laying off waves of employees in an effort to right size the bank. Financial stocks have the 30-stock index higher in 2012, but it was a housing play that proved to be the engine driving its advance. Home improvement retailer Home Depot (NYSE: HD) posted the second largest gain in the Dow, gaining 48.5% for the year. In total, the Dow rose 879 points for the year, and Home Depot contributed 145 points of that rise (comparatively, Bank of America contributed 45 points).
While the stalled fiscal cliff negotiations have markets around the world uneasy and may drive profit taking, the performance of the Dow this year should not be overlooked. Disney posted a 34.1% gain in the year, and marked an important milestone in October, agreeing to buy Lucasfilm and the associated Star Wars franchise for $4.1 billion. Jamie Dimon’s JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) has gained 35.1% in the year, despite being rocked by the London whale scandal earlier this year that cost the firm 2 billion and counting.
Although the DOW has posted impressive gains in total, there were some drawbacks in notable firms. Caterpillar and McDonald’s are also poised to finish 2012 in the red, with the latter dragging the Dow’s yearly gain more than 87 points lower. China was an issue for both, with slower growth in emerging markets contributing to disappointing results. Things are looking up though. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index has rallied from early-September lows and may portend a better year in 2013.
With just one trading day left in the year, all attention will turn to financial markets tomorrow. Normally a slow time of year, we may see a high degree of volatility, due to the impending fiscal cliff collapse.