The Top Performing Stocks Of 2020

The FTSE 100 has suffered its biggest annual loss since the financial crisis, ending 2020 down 14.3%, while other global stock markets powered to record highs.

It has been a year to forget in many ways for U.K. investors as the country’s sky-high Covid-19 death rate and the overhang of Brexit uncertainty weighed on sentiment.

Although the FTSE rallied 29.4% from its 23 March low at the height of the coronavirus panic, it was hampered by its oil and financials-heavy make-up, which were among the hardest hit sectors this year.

The U.K. blue chip index lagged nearly all its neighbors, as Germany’s Dax closed the year up 3.5%, while the French Cac was down 6.8%. Only Spain’s Ibex ended 2020 deeper in the red, losing 15.5% of its value.

The FTSE’s performance looks even more of an outlier on the global stage, where the S&P 500 rose 15.5% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq NDAQ surged 43.4% to record highs. Japan’s Nikkei, which was up 16%, and the Chinese CSI 300’s gain of 27% also scaled new heights.  

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The big stock winners of 2020

But there were still some big winners in the FTSE 100, with investors in the top performing stock, Scottish Mortgage, more than doubling their money. Shares in the £17 billion investment trust, managed by Baillie Gifford, soared 102% as it benefited from massive holdings in Tesla TSLA , Amazon AMZN and Tencent.

Ocado, the online supermarket retailer, surged 81%, in second place, as it proved a big winner of the shift to internet shopping during the lockdowns.

Miners were also strong performers on the back of the gold price surpassing $2,000 for the first time over summer as investors sought safe havens. Fresnillo was the third best performing stock, up 75.4%, with Antofagasta fifth after a 52.4% gain.

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, commented: “Mining companies’ strong performance is mainly thanks to a dramatic increase in the price of precious metals, which investors have tended to see as a safe haven in times of crisis.

“The gold price hit a record high earlier this year. And while it’s fallen a little since then as more positive news about a successful vaccine has given investors confidence, the price is still high.”

Flutter Entertainment, the gambling company formed by the merger of PaddyPower and Betfair last year, which later acquired Poker Stars owner Stars Group SGU , also proved a beneficiary of lockdown. It was the fourth highest riser, up 62.6%.

The biggest losers in 2020

British Airways owner International Airlines Group was the biggest faller in the FTSE 100. Its share price marked down by 60.9% as coronavirus travel restrictions saw flights cancelled across the globe, despite rallying late in the year on the November coronavirus breakthroughs.

Rolls-Royce was the second worst performer, down 52.4%. Although the company is perhaps best known for its luxury cars, owned by stars such as Kim Kardashian, its main business is manufacturing airplane engines.

Oil majors BP and Shell, were the third and fifth biggest losers, with their shares losing 47% and 42.4%, respectively, as fuel demand collapsed during the pandemic.

“Airlines suffered massive losses [and] in lots of cases they had to turn to investors for fresh capital,” Lund-Yates said.

“The oil giants were able to take some steps to control costs, but it still hurt.”

Lloyds Banking Group, down 42.8%, was fourth worst as investor concerns about the economic outlook mounted.

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