Top Materials Stocks for December 2021

X, LYB, and OLN are top for value, growth, and momentum, respectively

The materials sector includes companies engaged in the discovery, development, and processing of raw materials, which are used across a broad range of sectors and industries. Materials stocks include manufacturers of products as varied as plastic, fertilizer, paper, concrete, and metals. Prominent names include Ecolab Inc. (ECL), Air Products and Chemicals Inc. (APD), and DuPont de Nemours Inc. (DD).

Materials stocks, represented by the Materials Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLB), have slightly underperformed the broader market. The XLB's total return was 29.5% over the past 12 months, below the benchmark iShares Russell 1000 ETF's (IWB) total return of 33.5%. These market performance numbers and all statistics in the tables below are as of Nov. 18, 2021.

Here are the top three materials stocks with the best value, the fastest growth, and the most momentum.

Best Value Materials Stocks

These are the materials stocks with the lowest 12-month trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Because profits can be returned to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks, a low P/E ratio shows you’re paying less for each dollar of profit generated.

Best Value Materials Stocks
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing P/E Ratio
United States Steel Corp. (X) 24.50 6.6 2.2
LyondellBasell Industries NV (LYB) 91.99 30.6 5.4
Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. (CLF) 21.42 10.7 5.5

Source: YCharts

  • United States Steel Corp.: United States Steel Corp is a leading steel producer with operations in the U.S. and central Europe. The company serves the construction, automotive, energy, appliance, containers, and packaging industries with high value-added steel. For Q3 FY 2021, ended Sept. 30, United States Steel reported net earnings of $2.0 billion compared with net loss in the prior-year quarter, as net sales rose 154.9% year-over-year (YOY). The company reported record net income, EBITDA, and EBITDA margin.
  • LyondellBasell Industries NV: LyondellBasell Industries is a chemical company. It manufactures plastics and chemicals used to make food packaging, home furnishings, automotive components, paints and coatings, and similar items. The company reported that net income rise 15-fold as sales surged in Q3 FY 2021 ended Sept. 30. LyondellBasell attributed the performance to robust demand and tight market conditions, leading to strong margins.
  • Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.: Cleveland-Cliffs is a major North American flat-rolled steel producer and supplier of iron ore pellets. The company also supplies stainless steel tubing and other products.

Fastest-Growing Materials Stocks

These are the top materials stocks as ranked by a growth model that scores companies based on a 50/50 weighting of their most recent quarterly year-over-year (YOY) percentage revenue growth, and their most recent quarterly YOY earnings-per-share (EPS) growth. Both sales and earnings are critical factors in the success of a company. Therefore ranking companies by only one growth metric makes a ranking susceptible to the accounting anomalies of that quarter (such as changes in tax law or restructuring costs) that may make one or the other figure unrepresentative of the business in general. Companies with quarterly EPS or revenue growth of over 2,500% were excluded as outliers.

Fastest-Growing Materials Stocks
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) EPS Growth (%) Revenue Growth (%)
LyondellBasell Industries NV (LYB) 91.99 30.6 1,490 87.4
Nucor Corp. (NUE) 109.11 31.2 1,060 109.3
Steel Dynamics Inc. (STLD) 62.96 12.5 931.9 118.3

Source: YCharts

  • LyondellBasell Industries NV: See above for company description.
  • Nucor Corp.: Nucor is a maker of carbon and alloy steel, steel deck, steel bearing products, cold finished steel, and other products. The company also is a broker of various types of metals. Nucor saw net earnings surge nearly 10-fold as net sales more than doubled in Q3 FY 2021 ended Oct. 2. Record performances in both the steel mills segment and the steel products segment drove results.
  • Steel Dynamics Inc.: Steel Dynamics is a carbon-steel producer and metals recycler. The company offers products including flat-rolled steel sheet, structural beams, and engineered bar special-bar-quality.

Materials Stocks With the Most Momentum

These are the materials stocks that had the highest total return over the past 12 months.

Materials Stocks With the Most Momentum
  Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing Total Return (%)
Olin Corp. (OLN) 62.44 10.0 189.7
Alcoa Corp. (AA) 47.92 9.0 162.9
Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. (CLF) 21.42 10.7 135.6
iShares Russell 1000 ETF (IWB) N/A N/A 33.5
Materials Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLB) N/A N/A 29.5

Source: YCharts

  • Olin Corp.: Olin manufactures and distributes chemical products, such as chlorine and caustic soda, vinyls, epoxies, chlorinated organics, bleach, and hydrochloric acid. It also makes sporting ammunition and small-caliber military ammunition. On Oct. 28, the company reported its 380th consecutive quarterly dividend. The dividend of $0.20 per common share is payable on Dec. 10 to shareholders of record as of Nov. 10, 2021.
  • Alcoa Corp.: Alcoa is a leading producer of aluminum, bauxite, and alumina products. The company serves customers in the aluminum industry around the world. On Nov. 1, 2021, Alcoa announced the completion of the sale of land and industrial assets from the former Rockdale aluminum smelter in Texas. The transaction is valued at $240 million. The smelter was curtailed in 2008 and closed in 2017.
  • Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.: See above for company description.

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  1. YCharts. "Financial Data." Accessed Nov. 18, 2021.

  2. United States Steel Corp. "United States Steel Corporation Reports Record Third Quarter 2021 Results." Accessed Nov. 18, 2021.

  3. LyondellBasell Industries NV. "LyondellBasell Reports Third Quarter 2021 Earnings." Accessed Nov. 18, 2021.

  4. Nucor Corp. "Nucor Reports Record Quarterly Earnings for the Third Quarter of 2021." Accessed Nov. 18, 2021.

  5. Olin Corp. "Olin Declares 380th Consecutive Quarterly Dividend." Accessed Nov. 18, 2021.

  6. Alcoa Corp. "Alcoa Sells Former Rockdale Industrial Site for $240 Million." Accessed Nov. 18, 2021.