Editors' Pick: Originally Published Wednesday, Dec. 16.


The merits of the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to employ the policy of quantitative easing in the post-crisis era are still debatable, but whatever your opinions, there is no denying that the program was kinder to some than it was others -- including stocks.

The conventional wisdom is that QE, the process through which central banks essentially print money to spur the economy, inflates asset prices. And when the Fed enacted the program in the U.S., especially combined with low interest rates, that observation largely held true.

From Nov. 25, 2008 -- the day the Fed announced its first parlay into QE -- to the program's Oct. 29, 2014, end, the S&P 500 index climbed more than 130%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average index gained upwards of 100%, and the Russell 2000 index added more than 155%.

Ben Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve chairman who oversaw quantitative easing's implementation, acknowledged the stock market's appreciation following the 2008 crisis in a June blog post. He noted that "monetary easing works in party by raising asset prices" and pointed to other contextual explanations for gains as well.

"Stock prices have risen rapidly over the past six years or so, but they were also severely depressed during and just after the financial crisis," he wrote. "Arguably, the Fed's actions have not led to permanent increases in stock prices, but instead of returned them to trend."

Of course, not every public company's share price appreciated post-crisis in a quantitative easing environment. Both Transocean (RIG - Get Report) and First Solar (FSLR - Get Report) declined more than 50% in value during the period, and FirstEnergy (FE - Get Report) , Newmont Mining (NEM - Get Report) and Exelon (EXC - Get Report) posted notable losses as well.

Other stocks soared while the Fed was busy with QE. Here are the 10 S&P 500 stocks that returned the most to investors while the program was in place in the U.S. (For the 10 stocks that have performed best since QE ended, click here.)

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals  (REGN - Get Report) climbed 2555.5% while quantitive easing was in place in the U.S.

Recently, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author. TheStreet Ratings has this to say about the recommendation:

"We rate Regeneron Pharmaceuticals as a buy with a ratings score of A-. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, compelling growth in net income, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings team include:

  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 13.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 56.7%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.12 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Along with this, the company maintains a quick ratio of 3.18, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Biotechnology industry. The net income increased by 152.3% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $83.38 million to $210.40 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 445.89% to $892.85 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 0.96%.
  • 36.32% is the gross profit margin for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' net profit margin of 18.49% significantly trails the industry average.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: REGN


General Growth Properties

General Growth Properties  (GGP) gained 2399.9% while quantitive easing was in place in the U.S.

Recently, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author. TheStreet Ratings has this to say about the recommendation:

"We rate General Growth Properties as a buy with a ratings score of B. This is driven by a number of strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins and good cash flow from operations. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings team include:

  • General Growth Properties reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year,General Growth Properties increased its bottom line by earning $0.39 versus $0.30 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.42 versus $0.39).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Real Estate Investment Trusts industry. The net income increased by 66.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $74.61 million to $123.85 million.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the REITs industry and the overall market, General Growth Properties' return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • 44.43% is the gross profit margin for General Growth Properties which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 20.13% trails the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $281.50 million or 7.38% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, General Growth Properties' average is still marginally south of the industry average growth rate of 9.39%.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: GGP


Keurig Green Mountain

From November 2008 to October 2014, the share price of Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR)  increased 1833.2%. News broke this month that the coffee company is being acquired in an approximately $13.9 billion deal.

Recently, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author. TheStreet Ratings has this to say about the recommendation:

"We rate Keurig Green Mountain as a hold with a ratings score of C+. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed -- some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings team include:

  • Keurig Green Mountain's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.17 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.10, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Food Products industry and the overall market, Keurig Green Mountain's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • 41.94% is the gross profit margin for Keurig Green Mountain which we consider to be strong. Regardless of Keurig Green Mountain's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 9.12% trails the industry average.
  • Despite any intermediate fluctuations, we have only bad news to report on this stock's performance over the last year: it has tumbled by 35.30%, worse than the S&P 500's performance. Consistent with the plunge in the stock price, the company's earnings per share are down 29.06% compared to the year-earlier quarter. Turning toward the future, the fact that the stock has come down in price over the past year should not necessarily be interpreted as a negative; it could be one of the factors that may help make the stock attractive down the road. Right now, however, we believe that it is too soon to buy.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and greatly underperformed compared to the Food Products industry average. The net income has significantly decreased by 32.9% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $141.06 million to $94.60 million.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: GMCR


Wyndham Worldwide

Wyndham Worldwide (WYN)  climbed 1745.8% during quantitative easing.

Recently, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author. TheStreet Ratings has this to say about the recommendation:

"We rate Wyndham Worldwide as a buy with a ratings score of B. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, attractive valuation levels and expanding profit margins. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings team include:

  • Wyndham Worldwide's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 1.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.2%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Hotels, Restaurants & Leisure industry and the overall market, Wyndham Worldwide's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Wyndham Worldwide's earnings per share from the most recent quarter came in slightly below the year earlier quarter. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, Wyndham Worldwide increased its bottom line by earning $4.18 versus $3.22 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($5.09 versus $4.18).
  • The gross profit margin for Wyndham Worldwide is rather high; currently it is at 52.02%. Regardless of WYN's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 12.09% trails the industry average.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: WYN


Priceline

During the Fed's QE program, travel platform Priceline (PCLN)  gained 1721.4%.

Recently, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author. TheStreet Ratings has this to say about the recommendation:

"We rate Priceline Group as a Buy with a ratings score of A. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings team include:

  • Priceline Group's revenue growth trails the industry average of 38.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 9.4%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.64, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. To add to this, Priceline Group has a quick ratio of 2.49, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Internet & Catalog Retail industry and the overall market, Priceline Group's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for Priceline Group is currently very high, coming in at 94.54%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 38.56% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • The stock has not only risen over the past year, it has done so at a faster pace than the S&P 500, reflecting the earnings growth and other positive factors similar to those we have cited here. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: PCLN


Netflix

Streaming giant Netflix (NFLX - Get Report)  returned 1648.0% under quantitative easing. It has proven a top performer post-QE as well.

Recently, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author. TheStreet Ratings has this to say about the recommendation:

"We rate Netflix as a Hold with a ratings score of C. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed - some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, robust revenue growth and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, generally higher debt management risk and disappointing return on equity."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings team include:

  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, Netflix's share price has jumped by 157.34%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. Although Netflix had significant growth over the past year, our hold rating indicates that we do not recommend additional investment in this stock at the current time.
  • Netflix's revenue growth trails the industry average of 38.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 23.3%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for Netflix is currently very high, coming in at 84.59%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 1.69% trails the industry average.
  • Current return on equity is lower than its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of weakness within the company. When compared to other companies in the Internet & Catalog Retail industry and the overall market, Netflix's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to -$195.97 million or 423.43% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: NFLX


United Rentals

The share price of United Rentals (URI - Get Report)  climbed 1506.6% during QE.

Recently, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author. TheStreet Ratings has this to say about the recommendation:

"We rate United Rentals as a buy with a ratings score of B-. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins, impressive record of earnings per share growth and increase in net income. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings team include:

  • United Rentals's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 2.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 0.4%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • United Rentals has improved earnings per share by 22.3% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, United Rentals increased its bottom line by earning $5.18 versus $3.63 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($8.16 versus $5.18).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Trading Companies & Distributors industry. The net income increased by 12.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $192.00 million to $215.00 million.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Trading Companies & Distributors industry and the overall market, United Rentals's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for United Rentalsis rather high; currently it is at 60.97%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 13.87% is above that of the industry average.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: URI


Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG - Get Report)  returned 1328.3% while quantitative easing was enacted in the U.S.

Recently, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author. TheStreet Ratings has this to say about the recommendation:

"We rate Chipotle Mexican Grill as a buy with a ratings score of B. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income and notable return on equity. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings team include:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 1.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 12.2%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill has improved earnings per share by 10.6% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, Chipotle Mexican Grill increased its bottom line by earning $14.13 versus $10.46 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($15.55 versus $14.13).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has greatly exceeded that of the S&P 500, but is less than that of the Hotels, Restaurants & Leisure industry average. The net income increased by 10.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $130.80 million to $144.88 million.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Hotels, Restaurants & Leisure industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, Chipotle Mexican Grill has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for Chipotle Mexican Grill is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 28.31%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 11.90% trails that of the industry average.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: CMG


Signet Jewelers

Under QE, Signet Jewelers (SIG - Get Report)  returned 1284.8%.

Recently, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author. TheStreet Ratings has this to say about the recommendation:

"We rate Signet Jewelers as a Buy with a ratings score of B-. This is driven by a few notable strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and reasonable valuation levels. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings team include:

  • Signet Jewelers reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, Signet Jewelers increased its bottom line by earning $4.74 versus $4.57 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($6.77 versus $4.74).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Specialty Retail industry. The net income increased by 1253.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from -$1.30 million to $15.00 million.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 4.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.8%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.56, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.12, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: SIG


Seagate Technology

Seagate Technology (STX - Get Report)  saw a 1262.7% climb during QE.

Recently, TheStreet Ratings objectively rated this stock according to its "risk-adjusted" total return prospect over a 12-month investment horizon. Not based on the news in any given day, the rating may differ from Jim Cramer's view or that of this articles's author. TheStreet Ratings has this to say about the recommendation:

"We rate Seagate Technology as a hold with a ratings score of C. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed - some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its notable return on equity and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, poor profit margins and generally higher debt management risk."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings team include:

  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Computers & Peripherals industry and the overall market, Seagate Technology 's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $824.00 million or 36.87% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 4.33%.
  • The revenue fell significantly faster than the industry average of 25.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 22.7%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for Seagate Technology is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 29.50%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 1.16% significantly trails the industry average.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Computers & Peripherals industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 91.1% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $381.00 million to $34.00 million.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: STX