Last week we looked at the top performers for the year among the Russell 3000. This week we turn to the large caps, those listed among the Standard & Poor’s 500, and check in on 2012’s biggest winners. Prices show the stock increase as of December 10.

Constellation Brands

10. Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ) Up 72.5 percent

Based in Victor, New York, Constellation is the world’s biggest wine company, making and marketing wines like the Robert Mondavi and Ravenswood brands; it also imports beers like Corona and Negra Modelo. The year started out looking like a disaster for Constellation: When the company missed earnings estimates in April, the stock lost 12 percent in a single day. As late as June 22, the stock was off more than 6 percent on the year. But at the end of June, when Constellation announced plans to buy the half of the Corona operation it didn’t already own, the stock shot up 24 percent in a single day, and continued that kind of performance through the rest of the year.

Image: Bottles of Clos Du Bois, part of the Constellation Brands, is seen on a shelf at Empire Wine and Liquor Outlet in Colonie, N.Y., Tuesday, July 1, 2008. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Tesoro

9. Tesoro Corporation (TSO) Up 74.9 percent

An oil refinery corporation based in San Antonio, Tesoro rode strong earnings to the point that by the beginning of October, the share price had risen by nearly 90 percent year to date. It’s a very profitable era overall for the refinery industry, because the spread between crude prices and finished fuel prices are relatively wide. Tesoro took good advantage of that, despite an earnings disappointment in October.

Image: The Tesoro Corp. oil refinery in Nikiski, Alaska, is seen Sunday, Aug. 13, 2006. The San Antonio-based company’s decision to seek suppliers elsewhere two years ago paid off last week where most major refiners have suffered from the shut-down of BP’s Prudhoe Bay oil field. (AP Photo/Al Grillo)

B of A 

8. Bank of America Corp. (BAC) Up 81.2 percent

Like a lot of banking stocks, Bank of America, now headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, was beaten down pretty good in 2011, so it had a lot of room to bounce back this year. It went from 15.25 in January 2011 down to 5.56 by the end of the year – a loss of more than 60 percent – but by mid-March of this year, it was back up to 9.8. Not only did the mortgage business start to rebound, but B of A underwent a series of layoffs to reduce costs, although it took till December for the stock to nudge above 10.

Image: In this Dec. 7, 2011 photo, a woman passes a Bank of America office branch, in New York. Bank of America said Jan. 19, 2012, it made $2 billion in the last three months of 2011 from selling its stake in a Chinese bank and selling debt. That offset losses and higher legal expenses in its mortgage business. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Gilead

7. Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) Up 81.4 percent

Gilead, a biotech based in Foster City, California, had a weird spike in February: The share price went from 49.3 on February 2 to 56 on February 6th, then back down to 44.5 on February 22nd. The problem was that its hepatitis drug reported positive results early in the month, followed by disappointing trials a couple of weeks later. But there was even better news to come on its HIV therapy drugs, and more good news on the hepatitis treatment drove the stock up 12 percent in one day in November.

Image: In this Thursday, May 10, 2012 photo, Dr. Lisa Sterman holds a bottle of Truvada pills at her office in San Francisco. Sterman prescribes the drug off-label for about a dozen patients at high risk for developing AIDS. The pill, already used to treat people with HIV, also helps prevent the virus from infecting healthy people. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Marathon Petroleum

6. Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) Up 86.2 percent

Not to be confused with Marathon Oil, this Marathon, based in Findlay, Ohio, was spun off from its old parent in June of 2011. It is primarily in the oil-refining business, which means it is benefiting from the same industry trends as Tesoro. From June 1st to the beginning of this week, a span of just six months, the stock was up more than 75 percent.

Image: Executives and guests of Marathon Petroleum Corporation, previously a subsidiary of Marathon Oil Corporation, applaud as President and CEO Gary Heminger, second from right, rings the New York Stock Exchange opening bell, Wednesday, July 27, 2011, to commemorate the company’s recent transformation to an independent company. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Lennar

5. Lennar Corp. (LEN) Up 86.2 percent

Lennar is a homebuilder based in Miami, where the housing downturn was among the worst in the nation. Lending margins from its mortgage unit fueled strong earnings reports all year long. Between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012, Lennar’s profits doubled.

Image: In this Jan. 6, 2012 photo, Lennar homes are advertized for sale in San Jose, Calif. Lennar Corp.’s fiscal fourth-quarter net income dropped 5 percent, partly on higher expenses, but revenue rose as the homebuilder delivered more homes. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Expedia

4. Expedia Inc. (EXPE) Up 98.9 percent

The well-known online travel agent was a rebound story, after a huge drop in December 2011, when it spun off TripAdvisor and lost 30 points off its share price in a single day. But when Expedia announced in April that its first quarter earnings were up 62 percent, the stock shot up 23 percent. By late July, the stock had made it all the way back to where it was before the TripAdvisor spinoff.

Image: Barry Diller, chairman of Expedia and also InterActive Corp., talks with Allen and Company representatives as he arrives at the Sun Valley Inn for the 2011 Allen and Co. Sun Valley Conference, Thursday, July 7, 2011, in Sun Valley, Idaho (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

w

3. Whirlpool Corp. (WHR) Up 110.0 percent

The long-time appliance maker, based in Benton Harbor, Michigan, benefited from the housing rebound, as it placed many of its refrigerators and dishwashers into newly built homes. A restructuring in 2011 cost the company 5,000 jobs, but reduced overhead enough to drive earnings for 2012 up to around a projected $7 per share.

Image: A Whirlpool logo is seen on a Whirlpool refrigerator on the Singers showroom floor Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

s

2. Sprint Nextel Corporation (S) Up 141.9 percent

The beleaguered telecom, based in Overland Park, Kansas, really took off in July, following an earnings report in which it announced that being on the iPhone platform helped drive revenues up 6 percent from the year-earlier. Then in October, Softbank launched a bid to buy 70 percent of Sprint, driving the stock up another 20 percent.

Image: In this July 27, 2011, file photo, a Sprint logo is displayed on a store in Homestead, Pa. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

pulte

1. PulteGroup, Inc. (PHM) Up 171.2 percent

The king of the homebuilding comebacks. Pulte, based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, had lost 77 percent of its value between September 2008 and September 2011, but it nearly doubled in 2012. The numbers were good all year long: In the second quarter alone, home orders were up 32 percent; in September, housing starts were up 35 percent. Overall, the third quarter saw a profit of 30 cents per share, as opposed to a loss of 34 cents per share a year earlier. Add it up, and Pulte was the biggest winner of the entire S&P 500.

Image: In this file photo taken Feb. 3, 2009, a Pulte Home sign is seen at a residential home complex in Sunnyvale, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)


For more from Tom Nawrocki, see:

The dividend scenarios

Reading the VIX

The November Effect