The Best-Performing Stocks of the Third Quarter

Check out the highest flyers among blue chips, mid caps, small caps and IPOs. And don’t kick yourself.
Hindsight is something that keeps investors up at night.
In hindsight, we’re constantly kicking ourselves for not buying a stock that has doubled or tripled. I still kick myself for not buying Facebook (NASDAQ: FB).
Shortly after the social network hit rock bottom in the months following its disastrous May 2012 initial public offering, the stock was hovering in the $23 to $25 range, well off its $38 IPO price.
“If it gets back down to $20,” I said to no one in particular, “I’ll buy.”
It never did.
After more than a year of being stuck in the mud, Facebook shares suddenly took off, blowing past the IPO price within a matter of weeks and continuing to ascend from there. The stock now trades at $78.60, more than triple the price when I decided to pass on it just over a year ago. Oops.
For every big winner, we all have at least one stock that we “should” have bought. For me, Facebook was the one that got away. Every investor has their own Facebook story. Perhaps yours was also Facebook. All you can do is try not to kick yourself so hard that it leaves a bruise … and move onto the next stock. Sort of like in sports. You’ve got to shake off the misses and losses and move on to the next thing.
With hindsight in mind, it’s time to examine a few stocks that performed remarkably well in the third quarter. If you were lucky enough – or perhaps intuitive enough – to buy any one of these stocks three months ago, you’ve got yourself a nice instant return. If you passed on them the way I did with Facebook … well, try not to kick yourself too hard after reading this.
Here are the best-performing stocks of the nearly completed third quarter:

Best Blue-Chip Stock: China Mobile (NYSE: CHL)

With only three trading days to go, shares of this $243 billion Chinese telecommunications company are up 27% in the third quarter. It’s the largest wireless telephone company in the world, with roughly 800 million customers.
The company’s recent upgrade to 4G phones had a lot to do with the stock’s recent run-up. China Mobile expects to sell 88 million of those new phones in the second half of 2014, exactly four times the 22 million they sold in the first half.
As the popularity of 4G continues to escalate, China Mobile’s phone sales should continue to skyrocket.

Best Mid-Cap Stock: U.S. Steel (NYSE: X)

The nation’s biggest steelmaker got a huge boost in late July when its second-quarter earnings far exceeded consensus analyst expectations. The stock shot up 19% in one day … and hasn’t looked back.
Riding the momentum from that strong second quarter, U.S. Steel shares are up a whopping 64% in the third quarter. At roughly $42, the stock has reached its highest point in more than three years.

Best Small-Cap Stock: PTC Therapeutics (NASDAQ: PTCT)

It’s been a good quarter for biotechs.
The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ: IBB),  which tracks some of the most prominent stocks in the biotechnology sector, is up more than 8% in the third quarter. Among the many strong performers, PTC Therapeutics – which is devoted to the discovery and development of orally administered, proprietary small-molecule drugs – was top dog with gains of better than 67%.
PTC hit an all-time yesterday morning, and has now risen 138% year to date. Given the perennial volatility in biotechs, and that even Fed chief Janet Yellen recently called the entire sector “overbought,” I can’t imagine PTC’s run will last much longer – especially if the market turns sour.


The record-setting Alibaba (NASDAQ: BABA) IPO has garnered all of the attention of late. And with good reason. But no third-quarter initial public offering has performed better than GoPro.
Makers of the self-proclaimed “world’s most versatile camera,” GoPro has seen its shares skyrocket since their debut in late June. The company priced its IPO at $24. It’s already up to $81 as of Thursday’s close.
GoPro is the highlight of what has been a banner year for IPOs. The 204 companies that have gone public on U.S. exchanges this year have already raised $68.2 billion – nearly $20 billion more than any other full year in the last decade.

Bottom Line on the Best-Performing Stocks 

The big gains in the aforementioned stocks don’t do you much good now. But they can at least inform you of what’s trending ahead of your next investment. As the saying goes, past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.
Still, it’s helpful to at least know that biotechs are riding high, Americans are buying a whole bunch of steel, and 4G phones are in the midst of a major growth spurt.
We’ll see if those trends still hold three months from now.

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