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Best Stocks of the Year: The Trade Desk, Alibaba, Uber

TheStreet writers and editors pick the year's top stocks based on performance, quarterly results and execution.
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While 2020 certainly wasn’t the easiest year to pick winning stocks, there were pockets of success in certain technologies and ideas whose time has come.  

Just like we did last year, TheStreet has compiled a list of the top 25 stocks of the year for 2020, looking at everything from stock performance and quarterly results versus expectations to execution against strategy in what was a very challenging year.

We’ll be rolling out the results over the next two weeks, with individual articles on our top five picks running next week, and our top pick to be revealed on Monday, Dec. 21.

Please check each day between now and then to read about our top choices.

Picks 25-21

20. Axon Enterprises

2020 stock performance*: +69%

Axon  (AAXN) - Get Axon Enterprise Inc Report continues to benefit from a transition in its business toward body cameras, storage and related services, which is lessening the influence of the Taser business. The tailwind for this has been growing spend by law enforcement and others as civil unrest has grown, especially in 2020.

-Chris Versace

19. The Trade Desk

2020 stock performance*: +248%

For years, The Trade Desk  (TTD) - Get Trade Desk, Inc. Class A Report has been the best kept secret in digital advertising. As digital ad prices plummeted in the wake of the pandemic, its programmable digital ad platform benefitted from the failure of smaller players. Now the company is leveraging its new scale to attract media buyers and new partners like Alibaba  (BABA) - Get Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Report, Baidu  (BIDU) - Get Baidu Inc. Report and TikTok.

-Jon Markman

18. Sony

2020 stock performance*: +39%

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With the successful launch of the super-fast, solid-state PlayStation 5, Sony  (SNE) - Get Sony Corp. Report is set to dominate the US$145 billion video game industry for years to come, alongside the Xbox Series X. Think of the PS5 as a desktop computer designed for games, with a new styling as a sleek white and black tower. The haptic controller brings new sensations to video games, mimicking for instance the feeling of a variety of triggers on different weapons. Now if only they could get the supply, facing logistics logjams caused by the pandemic, delivered for Christmas. 

Sony’s stock performance this year is one of the factors that’s driven the Nikkei to its highest level in almost 30 years. With content and the devices to play it on, they have been perfectly poised to benefit from our changing media-consumption habits, including under the pandemic. Sony shares have doubled since March 2019.

-Alex Frew McMillan

17. Alibaba

2020 stock performance*: +26%

Alibaba  (BABA) - Get Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Report has benefited from the resurgence in the Chinese economy, the only major nation to post positive growth this year. But Alibaba is so much more than simply e-commerce. The spinoff of its massive and omnipresent Ant Group will happen, giving rise to China’s preeminent fintech company, and its Alipay digital wallet is already a huge driver of the Chinese economy -- hence the increased oversight from Chinese regulators that led to its world-record $37 billion IPO being pulled in November. While there are calls for a delisting of U.S.-listed Chinese companies that can’t comply with audit rules, BABA stands to benefit from others being delisted as supply of access to Chinese investments is reduced. Their auditor is also the Asian operation of PricewaterhouseCoopers so they will likely not face much issue on this front.

-Alex Frew McMillan

16. Uber

2020 stock performance*: +84%

Uber’s  (UBER) - Get Uber Technologies, Inc. Report food-delivery service Uber Eats has been booming since the pandemic hit as people relied heavily on takeout and delivery instead of dining in. Just recently, Uber shares rose after the ride-hailing and food-delivery giant closed its acquisition of food-delivery service Postmates.

Uber was able to compensate for the decline of its core business of ride-sharing, which was suffering during the pandemic as people feared traveling with strangers. This compensation came in the form of diversifying its business through the Postmates deal, and focusing on improving Uber Eats.

-Fatma Khaled

* As of Dec. 4 close

How TheStreet Calculated the Best Stocks of the Year

TheStreet polled a group of 16 writers and editors at TheStreet, RealMoney, Action Alerts Plus, Stocks Under $10 and Trifecta Stocks and asked them to nominate candidates, and then narrowed that list down to the top 25 stocks. We then asked each of those writers and editors to rank the top 25 from top to bottom, assigning 25 points for a No. 1 ranking, 24 points for a No. 2 ranking, etc. We then totaled the points for each stock to arrive at our final rankings.

The result is a comprehensive list of the stocks that performed and executed the best in 2020, helping drive the S&P 500’s rebound from its pandemic-induced lows in March.