A blank-check company that started trading on the Nasdaq in September 2021 and agreed to merge with former President Donald Trump's media company the following month was the U.S. financial stock with the highest total return of 2021,
Digital World Acquisition Corp. provided a total return of 416.9% for the year, leading all financial stocks, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis of financial institutions that trade on the NYSE, the NYSE American and the Nasdaq. The company signed a merger agreement with Trump Media & Technology Group Corp. in October 2021, and in December of the same year, it entered into subscription agreements for $1 billion in committed capital to be received upon consummation of the deal.
Payment solutions provider CPI Card Group Inc., which posted a total return of 322.6%, ranked second.
The 20 best-returning financial stocks, which included banks, insurance firms and specialty finance companies, had a median total return of 160.0%, far outpacing the broader sector and market. The S&P 500 Financials index had a total return of 35.0%, while the S&P 500 had a return of 28.7% in 2021.
Financial technology companies also were represented on the list, including Upstart Holdings Inc., Performant Financial Corp. and LendingClub Corp. GreenSky Inc., a fintech company that is slated to be acquired by The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in an all-stock transaction, posted a 2021 total return of 145.4%. GreenSky shareholders approved the transaction in December 2021.
The list of the 20 financial stocks with the lowest total returns in 2021 consisted mainly of fintech companies.
Metromile Inc., a digital insurance platform, fared worst, with a negative total return of 85.9%. The company and Lemonade Inc., which was also among the 20 financial stocks with the lowest total returns, inked a deal in November 2021 under which the latter will acquire Metromile in an all-stock transaction.