Stocks You Should and Shouldn’t Have Sold in May

  • Winners and losers saw 40 percent or more price swings
  • Overall market rose 2 percent between Memorial and Labor Day

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It would have been nice to take the summer off, but there was still money to be made in the markets if you didn’t “sell in May and go away.”

While politics and tragedy dominated the headlines the past three months, global financial markets maintained their steady march higher. The S&P 500 Index rose roughly 2 percent and volatility was remarkably subdued outside of a few spikes. However, some stocks did experience price moves of over 50 percent since May, leaving investors with outsize returns if they played their cards right.

Here are a few of the more notable moves this summer -— though not all of them were positive for investors.

NRG Energy Inc. 

The U.S. power generator’s shares took off after it came under pressure from billionaire investor Paul Singer to streamline. The firm is the biggest winner in the S&P 500, surging 54 percent.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. 

The company had been plagued with management shakeups, but shares rose this summer as it found a new CFO. The stock jumped 46 percent.

Signet Jewelers Ltd. 

Shares surged this summer after reporting a surprise sales gain in the second quarter and raising its annual profit forecast. The stock has climbed 32 percent.

Gilead Sciences Inc. 

Shares rose after the firm agreed to buy Kite Pharma Inc., giving it access to the growing market for drugs that harness the body’s own cells to fight cancer. Shares are up 30 percent.

Ralph Lauren Corp.

Don’t call it a comeback quite yet, but things are looking up for this retailer. It posted earnings that easily beat analysts’ estimates in the first quarter -- a sign that efforts to combat discounting is making headway. Shares are up 30 percent.

Foot Locker Inc. 

Shares of the chain fell sharply this summer after reporting earnings that missed even the lowest of analyst estimates. The stock is down 41 percent.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.

This Mexican fast food chain can’t catch a break, with another norovirus outbreak in July. Analysts are still waiting for it to bring back higher foot traffic. Shares have tumbled 33 percent.

Mattel Inc. 

The toymaker had a tough quarter and shares fell after its most recent earnings report. Shares have tumbled 29 percent.

Chesapeake Energy Corp.

The oil and gas producer isn’t in the clear yet, although debt reduction alleviates some analysts’ concerns about a potential bankruptcy. Still, shares have fallen 29 percent.

Ulta Beauty Inc. 

Yet another earnings story. The beauty chain fell 10 percent this summer after disappointing analysts. Shares dropped 27 percent.

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