10 best-performing Fortune 500 stocks
Which big company enjoyed a whopping 342 percent total return in 2007? Plus: the 10 worst performers of the year.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In a choppy year for big stocks, when the Dow Jones industrial average was up 6 percent and the index's best-performing stock - Honeywell - returned 38 percent, the top-performing Fortune 500 stock did much better - returning more than 300 percent to investors.
On the other hand, the worst-performing Fortune 500 stock returned negative 98 percent vs. the negative 45 percent returned by Citigroup, the Dow's poorest performer.
Here are the Fortune 500 stocks that had the best - and worst - returns to investors last year:
Mosaic (MOS, Fortune 500) (ranked no. 427 on the Fortune 500) led the pack with a whopping 342 percent total return. The Plymouth, Minn.-based chemical company saw demand for its fertilizer explode last year as farmers rushed to grow more corn and soybeans for ethanol and biodiesel fuel.
Growing farm incomes also helped AGCO (AG, Fortune 500) (no. 421) generate big returns. Total 2007 returns for investors in the Duluth, Ga.-based agricultural equipment manufacturer and distributor were a healthy 120 percent, making its stock the ninth-best Fortune 500 performer.
Meanwhile, as demand for steel skyrocketed last year, AK Steel Holding (AKS, Fortune 500) (No. 378) turned in the second-best return to investors - a solid 174 percent increase in stock performance. The West Chester, Ohio-based steel manufacturer's performance is all the more remarkable given that it started 2007 mired in a lockout of almost 1,800 of its workers that did not end until March 14th, after nearly 13 months.
The third-best performer was packaging-products giant Owens-Illinois (OI, Fortune 500) (no. 318), which returned 168 percent to investors. Sales, especially in its glass containers segment, grew throughout 2007 on improved pricing and favorable foreign exchange rates.
In fifth place was Amazon.com (AMZN, Fortune 500) (no. 237), whose stock returned 135 percent to investors in 2007, thanks to strong online sales and high margins. The company also excited investors with the November kick-off of its new e-book reader Kindle.
Next was Jacobs Engineering Group (JEC, Fortune 500) (no. 322), whose stock returned 135 percent despite a poor construction market. Though housing construction was down, Jacobs Engineering, which offers a wide variety of engineering services, held a record project backlog.
Meanwhile, GameStop (GME, Fortune 500) (no. 426) landed at no. 8 for stock performance, returning 125 percent to investors. The world's largest retailer of video game products profited from new releases of the frequently out-of-stock Nintendo Wii and the new Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 systems.
Rounding out the top ten was diesel and natural gas-engine manufacturer Cummins (CMI, Fortune 500) (no. 221), which diversified into the up-and-coming power generation sector and returned 117 percent last year.
The biggest losers
On the other side, troubled auto parts manufacturers Dana Corp. (DCNAQ, Fortune 500) (no. 255) and Delphi (DPHIQ, Fortune 500) (no. 83) were the biggest duds of 2007 - buyers of those stocks would have lost a frightful 98 percent and 96 percent of their investments, respectively.
Toledo, Ohio-based Dana Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2006, continued to suffer in 2007 from slumping U.S. auto sales, price reductions from car makers, and rising materials costs. Similarly, the Troy, Mich.-based Delphi, the country's biggest producer of auto parts, has been in Chapter 11 proceedings since October 2005.
Both companies have plans to climb out of bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, half of the worst-performing Fortune 500 stocks can blame the housing slump and subprime crisis for their woes.
Among homebuilders, Beazer Homes USA (BZH, Fortune 500) (no. 420) had the dubious distinction of generating the third-worst returns for investors (negative 84 percent); followed by Hovnanian (HOV, Fortune 500) (no. 373) at negative 79 percent; and Pulte Homes (PHM, Fortune 500) (no. 170 on the Fortune 500), which had the 10th-worst results: negative 68 percent.
Also hurt by subprime problems were Countrywide Financial (CFC, Fortune 500) (no. 91), which turned in the fifth-worst stock performance - negative 78 percent - and Washington Mutual (WM, Fortune 500) (no. 81), the ninth-worst at negative 68 percent. WaMu abandoned its subprime mortgage unit altogether in 2007.
Next was another bankrupt firm, San Jose, Calif.-based power company Calpine (CPNLQ) (no. 344), whose investors would have lost 76 percent of their investment in 2007, as the company contended with court battles with creditors.
The Fortune 500 is Fortune magazine's annual list of the 500 largest U.S. companies by revenue.
To calculate total return to investors, Fortune looked at both price appreciation and dividend yield to an investor in the company's stock, assuming sales at the end of 2007 of stock owned at the end of 2006. Returns were adjusted for stock splits, stock dividends, recapitalizations, and corporate reorganizations; however, no effort has been made to reflect the cost of brokerage commissions or taxes.
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