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10 Best-Performing S&P 500 Stocks of 2010

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The S&P 500 Index has risen 13% in 2010 and is ending the year with a bang, as this month's gain is the best performance in almost two decades.

Every year has its big gainers, and this year's is a diverse group, ranging from the mundane -- two regional banks -- to the glamorous -- an international resort and casino owner.

And there is the usual representation of technology firms. Two of them are S&P 500 newcomers, F5 Networks (FFIV - Get Report) and Netflix (NFLX - Get Report), which were added in mid-December.

Here is a look at the 10 best-performing S&P 500 stocks of 2010 and their prospects for next year. They are in inverse order based on their return.

10. Limited Brands (LTD) is a specialty retailer of women's intimate apparel as well as beauty and personal-care products.

The company owns Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, selling their merchandise through retail outlets, catalogs and Web sites. Revenue rose 13% in the third quarter, compared to last year, beating analysts' 10% projection. Third-quarter net income more than quadrupled to $61 million.

Due to its strong cash flow and hefty cash balance, the company paid a $4 in special dividends this year. It also authorized a new $200 million stock-repurchase program. The company this week said it enjoyed a particularly strong holiday season, reporting a same-store sales increase of 10%. Analysts had projected 4%.

Outlook: Limited's stock has risen 86% in 2010, including 22% in the past three months. Analysts laud the company's effort to return value to investors via buybacks and dividends, but there is concern that the strength of its flagship Victoria's Secret brand could be eroded as discount retailers such as Target (TGT) roll out their own line of undergarments.

Analysts' ratings are mixed, as nine rate Limited shares "buy," one "outperform," nine "hold" and one "sell." Janus Capital Management owns 8.9% of its shares, about double that of the next largest investor.

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