Stock stars - and duds
First-quarter roundup: RadioShack, Goodyear and oil companies led the charge, while AMD and homebuilders suffered.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Although many nauseous investors are probably glad to be done with a tumultuous first quarter, the ride wasn't all bad.
Granted, the broad indexes didn't impress in the first three months of the year. But select stocks and sectors did fine.
At the end of the first quarter, the S&P 500 (Charts) index was up just 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq (Charts) composite was up just 0.3 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average (Charts) - after hitting an all-time high in February - was down 0.9 percent year-to-date.
The small cap sector fared better, with the Russell 2000 (Charts) rising 1.7 percent in the quarter.
Without a doubt, a lot of stocks lost traction after Feb. 27, when a selloff on the Shanghai market sparked a global stock decline. On that day, the Dow lost 416 points - its worst one-day point loss in more than five years.
There were some up days in March, but the eight-month stock rally had lost its momentum. Worries about the subprime mortgage market and confusion about the outlook for the economy and interest rates dragged down a variety of financial stocks. Financial was the worst-performing sector of the first quarter, down 3.4 percent.
Tech also had a rough time, as investors pulled money out of stocks, such as No. 1 S&P 500 loser Advanced Micro Devices (Charts). Other big tech decliners included nVidia (Charts) and Lexmark International (Charts).
But plenty of stocks and sectors did well. Just not the very exciting ones. Utilities and materials were the two best-performing sectors of the first quarter, with both gaining 8.4 percent.
Strength in commodities helped pace the advance as investors continued to react to growing global growth and to seek relative safety amid a shaky market. Steel, gold, copper and aluminum stocks all did well. Aluminum producer Alcoa was the Dow 30's best performer. (See chart.)
With energy prices recharging after sliding around the time of the mid-term Congressional elections, oil services and electric utilities did well too. (See chart.)
Here's a look at some of the standouts.
RadioShack (Charts) jumped 61 percent as investors rewarded a company in turnaround. In the fourth quarter, the electronics retailer managed to trim costs and inventory and lift profit margins, successes that were acknowledged in the first quarter.
Financial weekly Barron's recently forecast that the stock could gain another 30 percent during the next 12 to 18 months as the company continues to make improvements.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber (Charts) jumped close to 50 percent in the first quarter, after taking steps to improve its standing with credit agencies and investors following a tough 2006. Goodyear managed to end a protracted strike just before the end of last year, and while that didn't help its fourth-quarter financial results, it did set the company up for stock gains in early 2007.
In late March, the company sold its engineered goods unit to a private equity firm for nearly 1.5 billion and vowed to use the proceeds to pay down some of its debt. Following that, Standard & Poor's boosted its outlook on the company.
On the downside, Advanced Micro Devices (Charts) slumped almost 36 percent in the quarter, extending its brutal 2006 as investors continue to batter the stock amid the company's struggle to compete with Intel without eroding its profit margins.
In March the company warned that it's unlikely to meet first-quarter revenue guidance, sparking multiple analyst downgrades.
Constellation Brands (Charts) lost 27 percent in the first quarter after the wine distributor warned that 2007 and 2008 financial results won't meet estimates, due to a competitive U.K. retail environment and excessive inventory levels in the United States.
Over the long run, analysts have said they expect the distributor of Almaden, Robert Mondavi and Inglenook wines to get back on track, although for the time being, further stock deterioration is likely.