JSE's building in Sandton. Photo: Elvira Wood
  • While the JSE's all-share index may end the year slightly higher, 2020 has been a wild ride for investors.
  • A couple of companies have delivered strong returns for their investors.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

While overall the local stock market is on track to end 2020 slightly higher, it has been a wild year for investors, with volatile swings in shares prices of the country’s largest listed companies.

Sasol was a case in point, with the company plummeting from above R320 a year ago to R21 in March amid tanking oil prices and concerns about its Lake Charles project in the US.

Still, if you invested R10,000 in Sasol at its lowest point in March, your investment would now be worth a cool R59,000. The company has recouped some of its losses thanks to firming oil prices and the sale of some of its assets. It is still 60% below its starting level in 2020, though.

But there was a relatively sizeable list of companies that have seen proper share price growth over the past year based on data compiled by the market information company TimBukOne.

Here are some of the names on the list of the biggest share-price winners (excluding dividends):

Jubilee Metals +191%

Jubilee's share price. Source: Sharenet

The company, which is also listed on the AIM bourse in London, recovers metals from mine waste materials at various plants in SA. It focuses specifically on platinum group metals and chrome.

Despite lockdown disruptions, the company grew at break-neck speed, almost doubling its revenue and Ebitda (a profit measure) in the past financial year, with record production achieved in its platinum group metals division.

Other mining groups also had a good year, particularly in the gold sector as the precious metal reached new record highs.

DRDGold (+115%) would have more than doubled your money over the past year, while GoldFields was up 53%.

Kumba (+47%), ARM (+56%) and Northam (+65%) were among the biggest mining gainers.

Purple +147%

Purple's share price. Source: Sharenet

Purple owns a large stake in the low-cost, share-trading online platform EasyEquities, which saw strong growth this year, and now boasts almost 261,000 investment accounts.

After years of losses, Purple finally turned a profit, and in the year to end-August saw its revenue increase by two-thirds to R163 million. EasyEquities, which was launched only six years ago, saw its revenue rocket by 136% to R96 million.

Purple also saw growth from its other trading platform GT247.com, as well as Emperor Asset Management.

Cartrack +100%

Cartrack's share price. Source: Sharenet

The vehicle tracking group Cartrack, which operates in 23 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe, grew its active subscribers to more than 1.2 million by mid-October this year, In Asia alone, its number of subscribers climbed by 28%.

It reported a 21% increase in its interim headline profit, with its half-year dividend per share jumping 335%.

Sygnia +100%

Sygnia's share price. Source: Sharenet

In a year where dividends were hard to find, the asset manager delivered a fat payout of 110c per share for the year to end-September (from 60c the previous year). Its assets under management grew by almost 6% to R252 billion, with its headline profit up almost two-thirds. 

Prosus +51%

Prosus' share price. Source: Sharenet

Naspers subsidiary and the largest consumer internet company in Europe, Prosus continued to benefit from its holding in the fast-growing Chinese behemoth Tencent, while its own food-delivery businesses were bolstered by the various national lockdowns during the pandemic. Its share price also received support from the announcement that the company plans to spend $5 billion (R76 billion) on buying its own shares, as well as shares in Naspers, on the market.

"The board of directors of Naspers believes the purchase of Naspers N shares and the repurchase of Prosus ordinary shares N represent a timely investment in the group's strong internet portfolio and a sensible use of capital given full market valuations evident in consumer internet and the groups sizeable consolidated discount to net asset value," the company said in a statement.

Both Naspers and Prosus are trading far below their net asset value.

Naspers’ share price grew by 30% this year.

Omnia +32%

Omnia's share price. Source: Sharenet

The bleeding finally stopped at the fertiliser and chemicals group this year. It was much loathed in the market last year after it had to embark on a rights issue (after saying it wouldn’t) to help tackle its massive debt burden which eclipsed its market value. The debt was a result of big acquisitions and an expensive new plant. But this year, the company sold some of its assets and cut costs, with the rights issue cementing its financial position.

South Africa’s exceptionally strong agricultural year also helped to return the company to profit.

Steinhoff 31%

Steinhoff's share price. Source: Sharenet

The woes of the retailer, which has been on the brink of collapse due to fraudulent accounting and gigantic legal claims from wronged parties since end-2017, have been well-chronicled.

But in 2020, its share price managed to climb – from 83c a year ago to 107c (still only a fraction of its 2016 high of R97) - despite continued uncertainty, and the hit from the pandemic. Still income from its cut-price retailers, including Poundland in the UK and Pepco in Eastern Europe, remained relatively stable despite the impact of lockdowns. In South Africa, it owns stakes in Ackermans and Pep.

In the year to end-September its revenue increased by 3.5% to R63.7 billion and its operating profit also rose, but it reported a large headline loss due to provisions for legal claims. The company seems to slowly make process in addressing these claims.

Business Insider South Africa is in the Naspers-owned Media24 stable.

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