It was a tough year for most investors in South African shares.
The JSE’s index of all shares lost 11.4% of its value in 2018. It was not alone – across the world, most markets were down. Chinese markets fell 27%. The biggest 500 stocks in the US were down 6% - the worst performance since the financial crisis in 2008.
Still there were some strong gainers on the JSE:
Montauk is a 30-year old American company that captures methane gas from landfills. It ended up on the South African stock exchange after local company Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) spun off its stake in Montauk and listed it on the JSE. In 2018, Montauk - which earns its profit in dollar - benefited from the weak rand and also got a lift following a deal in California that will see it convert cow manure into natural gas. It also announced that it would list on Nasdaq in the US, which will give more investors access to its shares
After a tough couple of years, the telecom and IT group shaped up in 2018 – it restructured and sold some of its businesses, won new contracts and bolstered its profitability.
The gold price lost almost 2% of its value in 2018 – the first year it has been in retreat since 2015. But AngloGold saw a strong rally in its shares amid plans to unlock value.
The vehicle tracking and fleet management company saw strong business growth this year.
Despite weaker profits, Telkom grew its mobile business.
The company is still struggling with a large debt burden and a weak economy, but managed to get rid of some of its loss-making businesses.
Investors piled into the company following news that a potential buyer could buy out shareholders.
The owner of Pep and Ackermans changed its name back from Steinhoff Retail Africa, and may have succeeded to put some distance between it and the embattled group, which still owns more than 70% of Pepkor. Pepkor sales grew by more than 10% this year.
Despite limping commodity prices, Anglo benefited from improved output and lower debt.
Then, the losers:
The company, which owns pharmaceutical and health products, has a massive debt burden and ended up selling some of its assets this year. It was also forced to deny involvement in corruption claims involving the Public Investment Corporation.
The company, which owns office buildings and malls including Sunnypark Shopping Centre in Pretoria and Hemingways Malls in East London, struggled in the weak economy, and also saw the unexpected resignation of its CEO earlier this year.
Fortress – which is part of the Resilient group of properties companies – took a massive hit amid questions about their valuations and inter-group transactions. Resilient itself lost more than 58%.
The company, which owns almost half of Cell C, was hurt by the mobile operator’s continued losses and large debt burden.
The Steinhoff slaughter continued as the market awaits a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers which should detail the true state of the company’s finances.
The tertiary education company, unbundled from Curro last year, reported increased income and became profitable this year, but still got slayed in the market.
The IT services group had a tough year, and saw a major restructuring.
A long-time investor darling, market sentiment soured after its earnings – and the price it got for its nutritionals division – disappointed.
The sugar company suffered a share drop in its profitability as imports ate into its market share, among other factors.
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