The Market Online - At The Bell

Join our daily newsletter At The Bell to receive exclusive market insights

  • It’s the end of another year, one that’s brought many ups and downs to the local share market as COVID-19 took its toll on the Aussie economy
  • But, since the ASX plummeted in March from its loft 7000-point high, the All Ordinaries index has crawled back and reinstated its early gains
  • Now, as we prepare to ring in the new year, we look at the All Ords stocks that have offered the highest (and lowest) 12 month returns in 2020
  • In the year to come, these stocks have the chance to extend their gains or reverse their misfortunes as they put another year of trade behind them

It’s been a tumultuous year for Australia’s benchmark indices. The ASX 200 and All Ordinaries suffered a ruinous blow in 2020’s early stages before staging a remarkable recovery.

Now, ahead of the new year, things have come full circle — the exchange’s best and brightest are inching ever-closer to 7000 points and are poised to rally in January.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic still running rife and political instability across the globe, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s in store.

So what does the performance of the ASX’s top 500 stocks reveal about 2021?

Turbulent 2020

The All Ords kept in step with the ASX 200 over summer, maintaining its early gains. However, when COVID-19 began to spread to all corners of the globe, both indices fell dramatically.

The All Ordinaries. Data current at 1:15 pm AEDT on December 31.
Source: ASX

The ASX’s top 500 obliterated its 7290-high over March, plummeting to a 4429-point-low within weeks as the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic.

Ultimately, the drop was the index’s sharpest fall in 30 years — not since 1987 has a correction been felt so deeply.

But every cloud has a silver lining, and the benchmark index managed to claw back some ground and set some more positive records throughout the year.

April and November were much better months — the latter saw the index’s best performance since 1988 after the ASX 200 surged 10 per cent.

As a result, there were certainly All Ords stocks which managed to withstand the crash and thrive in 2020.

Market movers

This year, mining and tech stocks soared to new heights. And it was former minnow De Grey Mining (DEG) which really impressed.

A newcomer to the All Ordinary ranks, De Grey started to take off around February on the back of news out of its Hemi gold discovery. From there, it went from strength to strength, with the share price spiking at $1.60 in September.

In the last 12 months, investors have seen a staggering 1,841.18 per cent return on the stock, while its share price has skyrocketed from 5.2 cents to just shy of a dollar.

Chalice Mining (CHN) was also hot on the gainer’s heels, and it was the only other All Ords player to record 12-month returns over 1000 per cent.

It was a huge year for the miner, which changed its name to reflect a diversified portfolio, announced a $110 million capital raise, and went from being worth 23.5 cents at the start of the year to close at $3.85.

Beyond the materials sector, tech stocks were favoured, and in a tough year for retail plays, Redbubble (RBL) delivered.

The eCommerce merchant is up 392 per cent since the start of the year, and the staggering return came as the pandemic kept shoppers at home and online.

Just last month, the retailer appointed SEEK expat Michael Ilczynski to lead the business into 2021.

“The next stage for the company is to go from a relatively niche to a mainstream marketplace as we match the consumer demand for more personal and relevant products,” Redbubble Founder Martin Hosking said at the time.

Market losers

On the other side of the coin, there were plenty more stocks which failed to combat this year’s early falls.

This year, FAR (FAR) was the All Ords stock with the highest negative returns, with a 75 per cent drop in value since the start of the year.

Company shares are currently suspended as the oil and gas explorer considers a non-binding buyout proposal from Remus Horizons.

FAR shares froze in September after the release of its half-year report, which detailed a ‘going concern’ and stressed the company was looking to divest its stake in the Senegal RSSD project to Woodside (WPL).

Since then, FAR stock has failed to return to trade, and it’s unclear what the new year will hold for the embattled energy company.

Meanwhile, Dacian Gold (DCN) has also been plagued with a faltering share price, with the stock dropping 74.5 per cent since January 1, 2020.

Shares slid during the COVID-19 slump and never fully recovered, middling around the 40 cent mark for most of the year. At the start of 2020, DCN shares hit a $1.76 high, and are now worth just 39 cents.

A media business also struggled on the All Ords: Southern Cross Media Group (SXL) had a tough year, down 72.5 per cent since the start of 2020.

Speaking to the impacts of COVID-19 on the business, CEO Grant Blackley said in October that the pandemic had both helped and hindered the group.

“COVID-19 has had a severe impact on our business since March this year. But it has also accelerated consumer trends that will play to our strengths and strategy as economic activity progressively recovers,” he told investors at an annual general meeting.

What lies ahead?

It’s clear COVID-19 had a massive impact on the local share market throughout 2020. But will the global pandemic weigh as heavily on the market in the year to come?

For Macquarie’s Chief Economist, Rick Deverall, things are already looking up.

“Equities have actually bounced really sharply already. We had the big fall in March and April, and most of the major indices are back at or close to the levels they were at before COVID-19,” he stated in the company’s global economic outlook report.

“I think that will continue next year, even though the valuations look stretched, [because] in the near term equities tend to move with global economic growth. Given that I think growth will be quite strong next year, in all likelihood equities will finish next year materially higher than they are right now,” Rick continued.

As a result, 2021 could bring new opportunities for the All Ord’s biggest gainers to extend their streak, and fresh starts to those who struggled to combat this year’s headwinds.

More From The Market Online

The Middle East: Exploration and mining opens opportunities for invesment diversity

Australia's strong economic ties with the Middle East significantly impact its stock market, given the region's…

Australia jumping hurdles to compete in the rare earths race

How do you make cost & profit predictions when you don't have an existing supply chain?…

What can we expect from the North American mining sector in 2024?

You may be surprised to learn the USA's nonfuel mining industry contributed US$3.64 trillion towards the…