When it comes to the performance of the Nasdaq-100 this year, things have been pretty good. The PowerShares QQQ (NASDAQ: QQQ), also known as the Nasdaq 100 tracking ETF, is up almost 21%. Naysayers would argue that a disproportionate share of those returns can be attributed to Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and it’s hard to debate that assertion.
Apple, the largest U.S. company by market value, accounts for 19.6% of QQQ’s weight and since the Nasdaq 100 is cap-weighted, the larger Apple’s market-cap grows, the larger the role the stock plays in the index’s performance. To be sure, Apple is one of the three top-performing Nasdaq stocks this year, but it may surprise many investors to learn Apple is NOT the best Nasdaq 100 stock year-to-date. Actually, it’s not in second place, either.
The iPad and iPhone maker, which in addition to being the biggest Nasdaq stock is the most popular, is up 57% year-to-date. Impressive, but that lags the returns offered by Priceline.com (NASDAQ: PCLN). The online travel reservations firm is up almost 64% in 2012. On April 9, the stock closed the day with a market value north of $38 billion. That means Priceline has a larger market cap than all of the major U.S. airlines combined or all of the publicly traded U.S.-listed hotel chains combined.
In between Priceline and Apple for the silver medal among Nasdaq 100 stocks thus far in 2012 is Seagate Technology (NASDAQ: STX). The maker of hard disk drives is up just over 63%, which is better than double the returns offered by its nearest rival, Western Digital (NYSE: WDC). Both stocks have recently been turned away at key resistance areas and look poised for more downside. The same cannot be said of Apple and Priceline.
In terms of the trio with dubious distinction of being the Nasdaq 100’s worst performers, less than four months into 2012, SanDisk (NASDAQ: SNDK) led the group. The maker of NAND flash memory storage solutions that are used in various consumer electronics products is down 11.2% though it should be noted nearly all of that decline was absorbed in one day following a bad earnings update from the company.
C.H. Robinson Worldwide (NASDAQ: CHRW), the shipping company, is down almost 8% and it’s fair to say traders are punishing that stock because of high oil prices. Embattled Internet search provider Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) is next with a loss of nearly 7% indicating the market continues to be unimpressed by the company’s restructuring efforts and that only large-scale assets sales or an outright sale would excite Yahoo shareholders.