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2023’s 5 Best-Performing Stocks of the S&P 500 (So Far)

It’s a bull market once again and these 5 stocks have been leading the way. All of them have doubled in 2023, and two might surprise you.

Person Typing on Laptop, 2023 Chart with Arrow Going Up Best-Performing Stocks

Countless gallons of (virtual) ink have been spent in the financial media about two recent developments in the markets. The first is that a new bull market has arrived. As of this writing, the S&P 500 is 23% above its October lows, still firmly in bull market territory despite mid-June’s week of consolidation.

That softening performance after such a strong start to the year currently looks like little more than a well-deserved respite in the market.

The second heavily covered development (which we covered previously here, and here … and here; I told you it was heavily covered) is the narrowness of the rally, which has largely been driven by the excitement around artificial intelligence (AI).


Some degree of that excitement is surely unrealistic hype as companies rush to proclaim that they’re integrating AI into their offerings. But don’t dismiss all the AI claims, as Goldman Sachs estimates that generative AI alone could add $7 trillion to global GDP, which is certainly boosting the fortunes of at least one of the best-performing stocks in the S&P 500.

But as our collective focus has been drawn to the AI waves, there’s been an interesting development under the surface.

The S&P Equal Weight Index, which mutes the outperformance of the mega-cap tech companies that have been driving the index for the first half of the year, rose 6.5% in June alone and outperformed the S&P 500, which returned a still-impressive 5.2%.


As my colleague Tom Hutchinson has written on more than one occasion to his Cabot Dividend Investor subscribers, this rally needs to broaden out or it will peter out. And the performance gap in June is an early sign that the rally may, in fact, be broadening out.

It is still premature to call this bull market anything but narrow, despite the promising developments, but we saw signs of broadening in the Russell 2000 (shown below via the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM)), which rose 7.5% in June after finding support at recent lows in both March and May.


Similarly, other more speculative issues, like biotech, appear to have found support just as the Russell hit its March lows. Biotech didn’t enjoy a similar June rally to the major indices, but the sector is working on building a new uptrend. Thus far it’s been able to put in a series of higher highs since the March bottom, but (as measured by the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI)) has been unable to consistently reach higher lows as well (persistent higher highs and higher lows are the two technical requirements of a true uptrend).

XBI did, however, find support near its 200-day line earlier this month, a good sign that “risk-on” assets are starting to participate in the rally (although a break of that support would be a red flag).


Bottoming is a process, not an event, but these positive signs are adding to the evidence that the bull market may be gaining steam.

As to the here and now, we’re still in a narrow rally being driven (mostly) by the biggest and best companies of the S&P 500.

The 5 Best-Performing S&P 500 Stocks of 2023 (So Far)

Company (Symbol)

Year-to-Date Performance

Nvidia (NVDA)


Tesla (TSLA)


Meta Platforms (META)


Carnival (CCL)


Royal Caribbean (RCL)


While the presence of Nvidia and Meta should come as no surprise given the tech-driven nature of the rally so far, the appearance of two cruise operators on a list of the best-performing S&P 500 stocks is something of a surprise. It appears that the unleashing of pent-up pandemic travel demand is finally helping those stocks off their knees.

Both sold off heavily in the pandemic and then ran into stalled rallies as the “Summer of Travel” of 2021 was cut short by the arrival of Delta and then Omicron Covid variants. By the summer of 2022, both stocks were retesting their pandemic lows. But that (at least based on the 100%+ returns this year) was the bottom, and the cruise operators appear to be back on track.

Tesla, on the other hand, is making something of a comeback appearance because it seems to have finally put Elon Musk’s disastrous Twitter acquisition behind it. Shares shed more than 60% in the last three months of 2022, which made it a prime candidate to bounce back hard. And, in fact, the 138% YTD return has still left it shy of the 270 level, where it sat to start the fourth quarter of 2022.

Of those five stocks, Carnival and Royal Caribbean both are likely to have the most room to run as they’re still below pre-pandemic levels (by 67% and 24%, respectively) and the travel sector is gaining steam.

Cabot Money Club Chief Analyst Nancy Zambell recently highlighted her favorite travel stocks as well as tips and tricks to save money ticking travel items off your bucket list in the most recent issue of Cabot Money Club Magazine. To see her picks and learn more, simply subscribe today.


Brad Simmerman is the Editor of Cabot Wealth Daily, the award-winning free daily advisory.