The fastest-rising share of 2013? The one that really took off? The surprise top performer in the FTSE 100 was IAG, the holding company for British Airways and Iberia, which started the year at just 194p but on 19 December was trading above 380p. EasyJet was not far behind, soaring from 794p in January to an all-time high of just over 1500p earlier this month.
The laggards? According to figures from stockbrokers Killik & Co, almost anything to do with metals, mining and commodities. Above all, the last place investors wanted to be this year was in gold and silver. The worst stock was Fresnillo, and the fact that most people have probably never heard of it speaks volumes about the nature of the FTSE.
Large numbers of foreign-based companies list on the London stock exchange, then enter the FTSE 100 because of their size, and have to be bought by the tracker funds – many of them UK pension funds – which promise to replicate the index. Fresnillo, a Mexican silver producer, started the year at 1900p and dropped almost continuously – this week to below 730p. Its decline has matched the collapse of silver, which has gone from $ 31 an ounce to below $ 20.
Gold fared little better. Its price fell from $ 1,700 an ounce at the start of the year to below $ 1,240 this week, sending shares in gold mining companies plummeting. Randgold, Anglo American and BHP Billiton all saw prices tumble during 2013, by as much as a third in some cases. Goldman Sachs called it near perfectly: in December 2012 it said the long bull run in the gold price was over and that it would fall to $ 1,450 in 2014.
The reason? When the banks were crashing, investors huddled for safety in gold. With a recovery in the US – and the end of quantitative easing – gold is losing its lustre.
But what about the prospects for 2014? Don’t expect a bounce-back, says Goldman Sachs, which remains firmly bearish, projecting a further 15% decline in precious metal.
Meanwhile, many of the gold miners, who had invested heavily in new plant and extra-deep mines during the boom, are facing steep losses. But easily the worst major stock this year was ENRC – Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation. With assets in Kazakhstan, controlled by Kyrgyz and Uzbek billionaire oligarchs, it floated in London in 2007 and soon entered the FTSE 100.
In September, following one scandal after the next, it was finally ejected from the index, losing investors nearly half their money and prompting claims that it should never have listed (and found its way into our pension funds) in the first place.
Top 5 FTSE 100 performing shares 2013
Intl Consolidated AI +106.439%
EasyJet plc +96.21
Hargreaves Lansdown +90.495%
Sports Direct International +86.417%
ITV plc +79.761%
Bottom 5 FTSE 100 performing shares 2013
Fresnillo plc -60.030%
Antofagasta plc -37.643%
Randgold Resources -33.92%
Tullow Oil -33.902%
Anglo American plc -32.682%