Best performing shares of 2019: why they soared
£4BN+ MARKET CAP
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) +117%
Retail sector darling JD Sports Fashion (JD.) sprinted higher once again in 2019. The branded sports and casual wear purveyor stormed into the FTSE 100 on record results and consistent earnings upgrades.
Like-for-like growth in the core sports fashion business was driven by the savvy mining of an athleisure boom among youthful gym-goers.
Investors also grew increasingly excited about the acquired Finish Line business which provides a platform for growth in the US.
The year also saw JD Sports acquire ailing smaller rival Footasylum, although the deal is being probed by the Competition and Markets Authority.
Aveva (AVV) +87%
This was the year when investors really embraced the compelling power of Aveva’s (AVV) industrial engineering software potential and stopped quibbling about the value of the shares.
Aveva is bringing disruptive technology to an engineering industry that is finally starting to embrace digitisation because of the obvious creativity and cost efficiency benefits.
No-one wants to risk spending millions building a potentially flawed ship, oil rig, power plant or plane when the design can be tested in virtual reality in almost every way beforehand.
Intermediate Capital (ICP) +64%
The specialist asset manager is focused on debt and private equity finance for corporate investments. It manages over €40bn of assets mainly in closed-end funds.
Results for the six months to 30 September showed group pre-tax profit up 24% to £153m thanks to €4.6bn of net inflows, strong investment performance and increased fees.
The firm raised its interim dividend by 50% and increased its operating margin target from 43% to 50% based on its positive outlook for the full year. Chairman Kevin Parry described the business as ‘more robust than at any time in the company’s history’.
Polymetal (POLY) +45%
Russian gold miner Polymetal (POLY) has hitched a ride from a rising gold price in 2019. It has also beaten production guidance numbers and kept costs down.
Unlike a lot of other miners this year, the company hasn’t been plagued by the operational problems commonly seen across the sector as it repositioned itself to focus on larger, low-cost assets.
A third quarter update (24 Oct) revealed full year production is likely to exceed previous guidance, while revenue jumped 43% on the back of higher commodity prices.
£1BN - £4BN MARKET CAP
Future (FUTR) +165%
Media group Future (FUTR) has had yet another good year. Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne has transformed the business, buying up titles which operate in niche areas and fully exploiting their content through a mix of digital advertising, e-commerce, events and getting readers to click through to partnered retailers.
On 31 October the market responded positively to the £140m acquisition of Ti Media, publisher of titles including Marie Claire UK and Country Life, and to record full year results which beat market expectations and saw upgrades to earnings guidance for the current financial year (15 Nov).
GlobalData (DATA:AIM) +97%
Data analytics and consulting firm GlobalData (DATA:AIM) had a breakthrough year in 2019 building on its £90m acquisition of Research Views in April 2018.
The strategy is to create a genuinely differentiated product which is embedded in the working processes of the world’s largest industries. This includes sectors such as retail, finance, oil and gas and technology.
All these areas have been unified under a single platform, creating benefits in terms of margin performance. The company swung to a profit of £5.2m in the six months to 30 June from a loss of £4.2m in the same period a year earlier.
Boohoo (BOO:AIM) +90%
Shares in pure-play online fashion retailer Boohoo (BOO:AIM) put smiles on investors’ faces in 2019, surging 90% higher as positive earnings momentum fostered bumper appetite for the stock.
Boohoo’s delivery of rapid growth in the UK and overseas drove earnings upgrades and was all the more impressive given the dire backdrop for apparel retailers and the downgrades suffered by closest quoted peer ASOS (ASC:AIM).
During the year, sales surpassed the £1bn mark, Boohoo’s net cash pile fattened up and the firm also added to its Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal brands by acquiring the Karen Millen, Coast and MissPap labels.
Boohoo recently hailed ‘a record performance’ across the Black Friday weekend with CEO John Lyttle highlighting strong operational performances from its warehouses in Burnley and Sheffield.
Softcat (SCT) +89%
If you believe that technology is now in the very knitting of almost every organisation, then you’ll have a feel for why Softcat (SCT) has performed so well in 2019.
The Marlow-based company is what’s called a value-added reseller. It sells a wide selection of third party software to small and medium-sized companies and public sector organisations, and provides PCs, smartphones and other devices.
It offers deep technology expertise and advice, effectively removing the burden of customers managing multiple IT products and service relationships by using it as a trusted point of contact.
What’s changed this past year is that the penny has finally dropped with investors regarding the scope of growth open to the company. With just 6% UK market share, analysts already forecast 50% growth through to 2021, but the company is much more ambitious, aiming for 11% or 12% market share over the next few years, implying a £2bn revenue opportunity.
£200M - £1BN MARKET CAP
Silence Therapeutics (SLN:AIM) +933%
Silence Therapeutics (SLN:AIM) is developing a new generation of medicines by harnessing the body’s natural mechanism within its cells to target treatment of serious diseases.
The shares shot up an astonishing 933% to 600p this year on the back of a steady stream of positive trial announcements and a commercial tie-up to monetise its unique technology.
In July the firm announced collaboration with US biotechnology firm Mallinckrodt regarding the commercialisation of its key SLN500 treatment. Silence received an upfront payment of $20m as well as royalties on net sales.
In addition, the deal provides for potential added clinical and regulatory milestone payments of up to $100m for SLN500, as well as commercial milestone payments of up to $563m.
RockRose Energy (RRE) +214%
Formed in 2016 to take advantage of opportunities to acquire assets in the North Sea more cheaply in the wake of a collapse in the oil price, RockRose Energy (RRE) has seen its share price increase by several multiples in the interim.
A series of deals have helped build production to 20,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. The most high profile is the £107m purchase of assets from Marathon Oil which completed in July 2019.
Alongside first half results (24 Sep) the company announced its first dividend payment of 25p, underpinned by a 429% increase in operating cash flow to £51.9m.
Alpha FX (AFX:AIM) +97%
The AIM-quoted group helps businesses to manage their foreign exchange exposure and liabilities.
Clients include retailers such as ASOS and Halfords (HFD), which buy goods in euros or other currencies and sell them to UK customers in pounds, and energy companies whose products are bought and sold on world markets primarily in US dollars.
At its half year results the firm posted a 60% increase in revenue and a 70% increase in operating profit thanks to new customers in the UK and new operations overseas.
A trading update in October saw Alpha say full year results would beat market expectations.
£50M - £200M MARKET CAP
Faron (FARN:AIM) +410%
Clinical stage biotechnology company Faron (FARN:AIM) has seen its shares rise by 410% this year on increasing hopes around its key drug Clevegen, a novel precision cancer immunotherapy targeting inoperable solid tumours.
The market’s enthusiasm was justified in November with the announcement that the US Food and Drug Administration had approved an expansion of the original trial.
Faron plans to open new study sites in the US to facilitate a rapid expansion of the study, investigating the safety and efficacy of Clevegen in various cancer cohorts.
GAN (GAN:AIM) +177%
The company provides a technology platform which helps clients convert their marketing dollars into more first-time gamblers.
GAN has seen a stark change of fortune after putting itself up for sale in a strategic review announced on 29 March.
That turned out to be close to the lows for the year for the shares, which have since responded to a string of positive developments in the key US market, leaving the stock up 177% so far this year.
GAN subsequently decided against a business sale and opted for an additional stock market listing in the US. A trading update for the four months to 31 October saw operator revenue jump 269% to $40.6m.
Ten Lifestyle +167%
Tech-led personal concierge service Ten Lifestyle (TENG:AIM) has more than doubled its value this year after consistently winning new contracts.
The company, which mainly partners with banks to offer perks to their high net worth clients, gained and retained customers in several parts of the world, giving it a bigger global reach than it has had in previous years.
It has also improved its digital platform, which along with the contract wins helped drive a 23% increase in revenue in its full-year results (26 Nov).
Going forward, the firm has said it is not significantly affected by macroeconomic conditions, because when the going gets bad, the last thing big banks want to do is lose valuable clients, and so offering Ten Lifestyle’s perks helps keep those customers.