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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Five of 2009's best-performing stocks, and five of the worst

UPDATED with new percentages reflecting Wednesday's closing prices:

With fewer than two trading days left in the year and the decade (sorry, CNBC's Mark Haines), let's take a look at five of the best-performing stocks during 2009 and five of the worst, as part of our end-of-the-year Listicle Festival.

On Monday, I picked the Top Five Business Stories of 2009, which you can see by clicking here.

On Tuesday, I picked the Five Most Controversial Business Deals of 2009, which you can see by clicking here.

Today's list involves no judgment; it's all about data. And although I don't pick stocks here at Economy Watch, the following two lists may help provide some guidance when considering how to invest in 2010.

Before we start, however, I must make this clear: Remember that stocks bottomed in early March at a really, really low trough. The Dow hit 6500, less than half of its October 2007 peak of more than 14,000. There was no place to go but up for companies this year, so you should not necessarily look at these stocks as long-term runaway performers. This was a highly distorted year in stocks, fueled by a classic V-shaped recovery from a deep dip.

Here are five of 2009's best performers:

-- XL Capital Ltd.: Up 396 percent in 2009. This Bermudan company is a commercial and property insurer that rebounded from big losses incurred in 2008 from a unit it has since spun off.

-- Ford: Up 306 percent. The lone Big Three automaker to hold out against government-induced bailouts and bankruptcies, Ford has increased market share throughout the year and is well positioned for the future.

-- Wyndham Worldwide: Up 175 percent. The hotel and hospitality sector was 2009's big winner, as it rebounded from a trough that began in 2007. In addition to its hotels, Wyndham has a vacation rental business that helps diversify the company.

-- Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.: Up 203 percent. This is a gold-mining company. Fears of recession and dollar devaluation have pushed the price of gold to historic highs. 'Nuff said. Worth noting: Finding new gold and getting it out of the ground is very expensive.

-- Priceline.com: Up 191 percent. This early-Internet travel-auction site could have gone the way of Pets.com: Poof. Instead, it smartly has gone the way of eBay and Amazon. Having my personal hero William Shatner as a spokesman doesn't hurt.

Now here are five of 2009's worst-performing stocks:

-- Citigroup: Down 54 percent in 2009. So far, this Goliath of a bank has received or been promised $45 billion in taxpayer money, has somehow managed not to fire its hot-seat chief executive Vikram Pandit and, earlier this month, had to price a stock offering surprisingly low to get any takers.

-- Huntington Bancshares: Down 53 percent. Some regional banks weathered the mortgage and credit crisis in good shape, largely because they held their own loans and did not securitize them. Others, such as Huntington, did not fare so well.

-- Sunoco: Down 38 percent. The energy sector has been spotty. Sunoco recently was downgraded because of low profit margins. This may end up being a sector with room for a few giant companies, a bunch of little innovators and nothing left in between.

-- Eastman Kodak: Down 37 percent. There are fewer companies around that better illustrate the difficulties of trying to transition from 19th- and 20th-century technology to 21st-century technology. Kodak -- which once was synonymous with photography the way Kleenex is with tissue paper -- has struggled with a number of different business lines as it tries to give consumers what they want in an era of credit-card-sized digital video cameras.

-- Kimco Realty: Down 18 percent. Kimco is the nation's largest owner of shopping centers, which is pretty much all you need to know.

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  December 30, 2009; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  
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