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Apple and Amazon's December returns may disappoint

If you're shopping for some last-minute stocks to buy this year, you might want to think twice about splurging on some the hottest holiday names.

Over the last 15 years, Apple, Amazon and other perhaps surprising names have been among the worst performers in the S&P 500 during the lead-up to Christmas Day, according to data from financial analytics firm Kensho.

Owning Apple, Amazon or Gamestop has been no better than a coin toss — they trade negative about half the time — while Hasbro and Best Buy have traded negative for 10 of the last 15 years during Dec. 1 to Dec. 25.

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And when you compare those stocks to historical returns for the broader markets, the picture is even frostier. December is typically a profitable month for stocks, and by some measures, the best month of the year in terms of performance. Over the last three decades, the S&P 500 has traded positive in December 80 percent of the time and returned 1.9 percent on average.

As of Monday, Amazon shares have more than doubled to around $665 per share this year. Apple shares have risen slightly over the past year, just over 7 percent to $118 as of Monday's trading session.

According to Google search data, some of the hottest gifts this holiday season include so-called hoverboards, drones, smartwatches and all things "Star Wars."

You might think that the likes of Apple, Best Buy and Hasbro would benefit from the boost in sales. And it's not that these holiday names don't see any holiday cheer. It's that Santa usually comes early to these stocks. They're more likely to see outsized returns the majority of the time in October and November in anticipation of those big December sales.

While it may be too late to get in on those stocks this season, better opportunities may lie in less buzzy names. Wyndham, Reynolds American and Goodyear are among the best performing stocks in the S&P 500 in the roughly four weeks leading up to Christmas.

So if you're shopping for stocks this holiday season, make a list and check it twice — or you may end up worrying about returns, in more ways than one.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal, parent of CNBC, is a minority investor in Kensho.