17 stocks make September a month to remember

September is a wildcard month for investors — it's hard to know what to expect. But there are 17 stocks that have made the "ninth month" one to remember – in a good way.

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Airline Delta Air Lines (DAL), online retailer Amazon (AMZN) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) are among the 17 stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500 that have beaten the market each and every September over the past five years, according to a USA TODAY review of data from S&P Capital IQ.

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Seeing that there are actually ways to make money in September is an important realization for investors who adhere to the adage, "Sell in May and go away." September lands during the time of the year some investors start getting fearful of big corrections — or worse. Some investors see a negative association with the fall as being too risky to be worth the trouble. But these 17 stocks show investors that choose wisely can skate past — and even profit — during this month.

One of the biggest consistent September winners is Delta. The company has generated an average monthly gain during September of 19.6%, which is well above the 1.9% average gain of the market during the past five Septembers. In Delta's case, seeing the stock run up in September makes a bit of sense.

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The third quarter, ended in September, tends to be the month where the airline books the greatest revenue. During 2013, for instance, revenue in the September quarter was $10.5 billion. That was 8% higher revenue than the second quarter, which was the second biggest quarter of the year. That pattern is pretty consistent over the year. It would stand to reason that investors are piling into the stock ahead of the company reporting the key third-quarter quarter.

Over at Amazon, the biggest quarter of the year is the fourth quarter — not the third. But it seems investors are playing a game of one-upmanship with other investors and trying to pile in even earlier than one another. It's kind of like a battle of the wits — where investors are second-guessing one another.

The online retailer posted an average 11% gain in the past five Septembers. No one wants to be left out if the company posts strong holiday numbers. And analysts are expecting another big fourth quarter for 2014, calling for 35% growth.

That's not to say these stocks have generated positive gains every September. In fact, 12 of the 17 stocks saw their stocks fall during September 2011 as the nation was in shock following the terrorist attacks.

Hotelier Marriott (MAR) was the hardest hit, with its shares dropping 7% during September 2011 as investors figured global travel would cool following the terrorist act. But while these 12 stocks were down in September 2011, all of them were down less than the 7.2% decline of the S&P 500 that money.

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So while September has a bad rep with some investors, it would appear that in these cases the fears might be overblown.

Below are the 17 stocks in the S&P 500 that have beaten the market each and every of the past five Septembers:

—By Matt Krantz, USA Today

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