New York (CNN Business)Oil prices began 2021 just under $50 a barrel. They are now trading just north of $70 and in October reached $85 -— a seven-year high. So it should come as no surprise that energy stocks are among the market's biggest winners this year.
Oil and natural gas exploration company Devon Energy (DVN) is the best performing stock in the S&P 500 through December 13, with a nearly 180% gain.
Marathon Petroleum (MPC) and Diamondback Energy (FANG), are up more than 100%. APA (APA), the parent company of oil giant Apache, and ConocoPhillips (COP), have nearly doubled as well.
As long as crude prices remain in the $60-to-$80-a-barrel range, oil stocks should continue to be solid performers in 2022 as well, said Anastasia Amoroso, chief investment strategist with iCapital Network.
But oil and gas firms aren't the only ones that thrived in 2021. Other big winners included Bath & Body Works, which is up 145% this year after spinning off Victoria's Secret.
Covid-19 vaccine maker Moderna (MRNA), Ford (F) and chip giant Nvidia (NVDA) have all more than doubled in 2021, too.
As for the losers, let's just say that investors didn't have much patience for games of chance -- or video games.
Betting on gambling and video games has been a big bust
Casino owner and sports betting company Penn National Gaming (PENN), which owns a big chunk of Dave Portnoy's Barstool, is the worst S&P 500 stock this year. It lost nearly half its value in 2021. Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) were also market laggards, falling 37% and 22% this year.
Traders also shunned software companies that make popular games for PCs and consoles. "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard (ATVI), whose CEO Bobby Kotick has come under fire due to a sexual discrimination and harassment scandal at the company, has plunged more than 35%
But the problems for video games go beyond Activision Blizzard's scandal. Well-publicized shortages of new consoles from Sony (SNE) and Microsoft (MSFT) have hurt the broader video game sector, too.
Take-Two Interactive's (TTWO) shares have fallen more than 20% while Electronic Arts (EA) is down nearly 15%. (The console supply concerns haven't stopped meme stock GameStop (GME) this year, though.)
Intense streaming competition is putting Big Media companies' growth into question. That's hurting CNN parent company AT&T, which is down more than 20% this year.
AT&T (T) has announced plans to combine its WarnerMedia unit with Discovery (DISCA) (which is also down 20% this year) to create a new media giant to be called Warner Bros. Discovery.
Shares of ViacomCBS (VIAC), Disney (DIS) and Verizon (VZ) are all in the red for 2021 as well, for reasons ranging from more competition to a lack of investor enthusiasm for dividend stocks relative to bonds.
Investors also soured on some of the pandemic winners from 2020. Shares of Clorox (CLX) fell more than 15%, making it among the worst stocks in the S&P 500 for 2021.
The stocks of several pandemic beneficiaries not in the S&P 500, most notably Zoom Video (ZM), Roku (ROKU) and Peloton (PTON), have plunged this year as well.
Despite recent worries about the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of Covid-19, investors are betting that the economy may return to normal and more people will go back to work and resume leisure activities thanks to vaccines.