A big run for stocks since '09; a great run for cotton

Stocks have soared since the market bottom on March 9, 2009. But commodities have done even better. Here's a look at how U.S. markets have performed.

By Charley Blaine Mar 9, 2011 3:23PM
Image: Trading floor (© Corbis)Let's say that on March 9, 2009 you bought an ounce of gold, one 42-gallon barrel of crude oil and one share at the closing price in each of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) and held all of those assets through Monday. How would you have done?

Splendidly, of course. You would have doubled your money on the 30 shares you bought in the Dow. Caterpillar's (CAT) 335% gain over the two years would have more than compensated for a return of just 10.4% on your one share of Wal-Mart Stores (WMT).

Crude oil performed quite well, too. It's up 123% since the March 2009 market bottom. Cotton is up nearly 432%.

And what of gold? It's done all right. But its 55% gain is, frankly, middling. Much better to have bought silver. It's up 176%. Or even better, cotton, up 432%.

The markets have seen huge gains since the March 2009 bottom. You can credit the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department in the last months of the Bush administration and in the Obama administration for much of those gains. They stabilized the banking system enough to allow the domestic economy to start a modest recovery.

Central Banks around the world all did their jobs, in fact, and most economies are in far better shape than they were in 2009. Maybe not Greece or Ireland. Maybe not a number of economies in Africa. Article continues below.

And stocks shared in the recovery. The Dow finished Tuesday up 86.6% from its March 2009 bottom. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) is up 95.4%. The Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) is up 118%, and the small-cap Russell 2000 Index ($RUT.X) is up 140%.

The Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX.X), which tracks the largest Nasdaq stocks, was up 123.9%. Foreign markets have participated in the recovery, too: Germany's Dax Index ($DE:DAX) is up 61% from its market low, Britain's FTSE-100 Index ($GB:UKX) is up 97%, and Japan's Nikkei-225 Index ($JP:N225) has risen 49%.

Those are extraordinary numbers, and the market hasn't seen anything like them since the 1930s. Of course, there hadn't been a financial crisis as dangerous since the 1930s, either.

Don't get too comfortable with those returns. There's plenty of risk ahead -- if only because the returns have been so big and come so quickly.

The risks include high joblessness in the United States and in other developed economies, a terrible real estate market, rising oil and commodity prices, global turmoil and gridlock in Washington and elsewhere.

But manufacturing in the United States has rebounded. A rebound in jobs looks like it's about to emerge. Retail sales are stronger.

Major indicator changes  since the March 2009 market bottom
Indicator

Tues. close

Chg. From '09 
Dow Jones Industrial Average

12,214.38

86.56%
Standard & Poor's 500 Index 

1,321.82

95.38%
Nasdaq Composite Index

2,765.77

118.01%
Nasdaq-100 Index 

2,337.55

123.93%
Russell 2000 Index 

824.66

140.24%
Gold

1,427.20

55.52%
Crude oil 

$105.02

123.11%
Silver

$35.68

175.73%
Cotton

$2.07

431.62%


The big winners
Here's an idea what stocks won and lost.

The Dow: The big winner since 2009 has been Caterpillar (CAT), up 335.3%, followed by American Express (AXP) and Bank of America (BAC), up 325.2% and 291.7%, respectively. AT&T (T), up 31%, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), up 30.3%, and Wal-Mart are the laggards. Normally, a 30% gain over two years would be remarkable. But the 2007-2008 Financial Crash was extraordinary.

Dow leaders  and laggards since March 2009 bottom
Company

Tues. close

Chg. From '09
Leaders





Caterpillar

$104.13

335.33%
American Express

$45.24

325.19%
Bank of America 

$14.69

291.73%
DuPont    

$54.26

236.18%
Alcoa  

$16.49

205.94%
Laggards





Wal-Mart Stores

$52.44

10.38%
Johnson & Johnson 

$60.71

30.28%
AT&T

$28.45

30.99%
Exxon Mobil

$84.60

31.02%
Cisco Systems

$18.22

33.77%

 

S&P 500: This index, which represents about 75% of the market capitalization of the entire U.S. stock market, has seen some huge gains, mostly from troubled financial institutions that have used government support to recover.

Genworth Financial (GNW) and Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) were the first and fourth biggest gainers, up 1,330% and 886%, respectively. But don't forget JDS Uniphase (JDSU), up 1,047%, and hotel operator Wyndham Worldwide (WYN), up 917%.

Another big winner: Ford Motor (F), up 732%, thanks to what appears to be a successful turnaround plan. On Tuesday, the company awarded CEO Alan Mullaly a bonus of $56 million in Ford stock for engineering the plan. Executive Chairman Bill Ford received a $42.4 million stock bonus.


 

S&P 500 leaders and laggards since March 2009 bottom
Company

Tues. close

Chg. From '09
Leaders





Genworth Financial

$13.01

1,329.67%
JDS Uniphase

$25.35

1,047.06%
Wyndham Worldwide

$31.52

916.77%
Fifth Third Bancorp

$13.70

885.61%
CB Richard Ellis Group


$25.53

842.07%
Gannett


$16.40

741.03%
Ford Motor

$14.47

731.61%
Wynn Resorts

$127.06

717.11%
Pioneer Natural Resources

$97.45

705.37%
Tenet Healthcare

$7.13

692.22%
Laggards





MEMC Electronic Materials

$12.46

-5.61%
Gilead Sciences

$41.24

-5.65%
Cephalon

$57.19

-7.40%
Pultegroup

$7.09

-12.25%
GameStop


$19.82

-13.45%
H&R Block


$15.02

-15.71%
People's United Financial

$12.69

-26.48%
Apollo Group


$43.21

-34.91%
Supervalu


$7.76

-43.93%
Dean Foods

$9.96

-48.15%


Nasdaq-100: Let's start with Apple (AAPL), which was only the 13th-best Nasdaq-100  performer over the last two years. But because of its peculiar weighting in the index, Apple's 328% gain since March 9, 2009 is the biggest reason why the index has more than doubled in the same time frame.

That said, the biggest winner reflects a modest recovery in the United States and rapid growth in China: casino operator Wynn Resorts (WYNN), up 716%.  China's influence shows up with the second-best stock in the index Baidu (BIDU), up 666%, which was helped when Google (GOOG) got into a battle over censorship with the Chinese government. Google has been a middling performer in the index since march 2009, up "just" 102.8%.

In fact, you have to look hard to find losers in the index. There are only three: biotechs Gilead Sciences (GILD) and Cephalon (CEPH), and Apollo Group (APOL), the operator of the University of Phoenix chain of for-profit colleges.

Nasdaq-100 leaders and laggards since March 2009 bottom
Company

Tues. close

Chg. From '09
Leaders





Wynn Resorts

$127.06

716.14%
Baidu

$120.18

666.28%
Virgin Media 

$27.99

617.83%
Liberty Media

$16.28

566.26%
SanDisk

$46.91

499.74%
Laggards





Apollo Group

$43.21

-34.94%
Cephalon

$57.19

-7.71%
Gilead Sciences

$41.25

-5.12%
Activision Blizzard

$11.11

8.55%
Amgen

$52.52

12.86%


6Comments
Mar 9, 2011 4:14PM
avatar
what the Fed did, and continues to do, is pump billions into the stock market indexes, particularly S&P in virtually "free" funny money for their banking pals to play with in the market. that has a heck of a lot more to do with the stock market's "recovery" then anything else. Wanna bet you get the next round of QE in June because they know without continued pumping, the market drops 50%.  hows that for news you won't read anywhere on MSN money.
Mar 9, 2011 10:25PM
avatar

Here is the problem of greed.  A 55% return since 09, for gold, was basically laughed at.  Does anyone remember back in the day when any gain like that would be a super performing investment.  When will it all end?  Does every company have to have a 400% gain?  Who is paying for that kind of gain?  The consumer, that is who.  If I had a 55% return on my savings account,  I would be very happy.  The profit margins that some companies are making is insane.  It cannot last, and then then the next crash.  Then the government will come to the rescue again, and had the bill to the taxpayers. 

Mar 9, 2011 4:52PM
avatar
Hindsight is terrrifc, and the best part is , we all have it!
Mar 10, 2011 3:26PM
avatar
Triple the money supply and you expect what? Something different?
Mar 10, 2011 2:46PM
avatar
"And what of gold? It's done all right. But its 55% gain is, frankly, middling. Much better to have bought silver. It's up 176%. Or even better, cotton, up 432%"

using the term "middling" to mean average or poor is not the correct use. Middling is pretty nice grade of cotton, better than average. Use Strict Low Middling or Low Middling...use "below grade" for not real good at all. let's not even talk about strength or uniformity or staple length or micronaire or neps or bark...:)
Mar 9, 2011 4:45PM
avatar
what the Fed did, and continues to do, is pump billions into the stock market indexes, particularly S&P in virtually "free" funny money for their banking pals to play with
'AAAAAAAAH'; sir who the 'H' do you think you are to speak about the fed's like this.......you sir are a bigot........i'm and many others are appalled by your lack of tolerance........bah hahahahahaha hahahahaha!Nerd
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