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Jim Cramer breaks down the top 2019 S&P 500 performers and their 2020 odds

Key Points
  • "When you look at last year's best performers in the S&P 500, you see a lot of companies with phenomenal management that were unfairly written off as losers and then came roaring back," CNBC's Jim Cramer says.
  • "I think the ones that are riding powerful secular trends have a lot more room to run," the "Mad Money" host says.
VIDEO3:3703:37
The top 2019 S&P 500 performers and their 2020 odds

CNBC's Jim Cramer on Friday took a look at last year's run in the S&P 500 to lay out his thoughts on how the top performers would play out over the coming year in trading.

The S&P 500, which tracks 500 large-cap public stocks, posted a gain of 28.9% in 2019, its largest advance since 2013.

"When you look at last year's best performers in the S&P 500, you see a lot of companies with phenomenal management that were unfairly written off as losers and then came roaring back, thanks in part to improving fundamentals driven by the CEOs," the "Mad Money" host said. "I think the ones that are riding powerful secular trends have a lot more room to run."

Advanced Micro Devices — surged 148% to $45.86

Cramer credited AMD CEO Lisa Su for engineering the chipmaker's turnaround in 2019 by focusing on the personal computer, server and gaming markets.

"When you consider all of the issues that are plaguing Intel, its main competitor, I think this company's got a bright future," he said.

Lam Research — gained 115% to $292.40

Lam Research, which supplies semiconductors for integrated circuits, is led by new CEO Tim Archer, who initiated a big stock buyback at lower levels. Cramer noted that the semiconductor cycle is bottoming, which is good news for the stock, but his charitable trust has been trimming its holdings of the company to pocket some of the profits.

"The trick with these stocks is to buy them before everyone else realizes that the turn is at hand," he said. "That's why we're ringing the register: The easy money has clearly been made."

Target — advanced 94% to $128.21

Target CEO Brian Cornell's strategy to buy Shipt same-day delivery service, double down on top private-label brands and roll out new store formats is paying off in this new retail environment dominated by e-commerce, Cramer said. The department store is among his WATCH acronym of retailers with scale.

"All five are remarkable in their own way, but Target stands out as the best performer, thanks in part to the remarkable leadership of CEO Brian Cornell," he said. "Like Lisa Su, I think Cornell is one of the greatest turnaround artists in the history of American business."

Chipotle - up 94% to $837.11

Chipotle shares were left out to dry a few years ago after the eatery was hit by two food-safety scandals. However, it takes about 18 months for people to forget about bad news and this thesis proved true for Chipotle, Cramer said. It helped that the company in 2018 brought on CEO Brian Niccol, the former Taco Bell head who revamped operations to provide more convenience to customers. The results are showing, the host said.

"Throughout the downturn Jack Hartung, the amazing CFO, never strayed from coming on this show, no matter how weak the numbers were," Cramer said. "That's another sign of a tremendous company. The fact that Chipotle's just going back into the double-digit same-store sales tells me there is more good ahead, here."

Qorvo — rallied 91% to $116.23

Qorvo, a play on the 5G rollout, has more in its tank after a big year, Cramer said.

"5G-oriented chipmakers like Qorvo have been on fire here," he said, "and though I like Skyworks Solutions better ... Qorvo had more room to run because its stock was so hated coming into the year."

Copart — moved 90% to $90.94

Copart may be the most unrecognizable name on Cramer's list, but the online vehicle auction company has played a key role in the digitization of the auto salvage business. The company especially benefits from natural disasters that often leave cars inoperable, Cramer noted.

"Even though Copart has an incredibly powerful story, the stock is ridiculously underfollowed by Wall Street," he said. "It sells for 33 times earnings, and I think it can keep going higher until we start hearing from analysts recommending it."

Xerox — surged 87% to $36.87

Cramer called Xerox a "restructuring play" in the wake of its stake in a joint venture with Fuji. The printing company made headlines last year in an attempt to force HP to buy out the firm.

"I think that [stock] may be running out of gas," Cramer said. "I recommend selling some Xerox if you own it."

Applied Materials — rose 86% to $61.04

Cramer compared the performance of semiconductor capital equipment maker Applied Materials to the gains made by Lam Research.

Apple — gained 86% to $293.65

Cramer continues to recommend Apple, the only Dow Jones Industrial Average component to place in the top 10 of S&P performers, as a stock that investors want to own and never trade.

VIDEO9:3709:37
Jim Cramer breaks down the top 2019 S&P 500 performers and their 2020 odds

Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Apple and Lam Research.

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