Interactive Investor

AIM’s best and worst shares of 2021

24th December 2021 10:16

Graeme Evans from interactive investor

Where else can you find companies with the potential to rise almost 1,000% in under 12 months? Look no further than AIM. Here are the small-cap shares generating mega-profits for shareholders this year.

AIM success stories were not hard to find in 2021 after 58 companies more than doubled in value over the year, led by Quantum Blockchain Technologies (LSE:QBT) with an astonishing 957% rise. If you count all the companies that managed the feat at some point during the past 12 months, it’s many more.

Other notable performances included fintech payments group Equals (LSE:EQLS), whose strategic switch away from travel money continues to pay off, and consultancy Next Fifteen Communications (LSE:NFC) after reporting revenues growth of 34%. Manchester-based industrial chains specialist Renold (LSE:RNO) has also seen a big shift in fortunes after shares rose 138%.

But as always with AIM, the period left some shareholders nursing big losses, with the list of heavy fallers including Boohoo (LSE:BOO) after its recent profits warning left shares 65% lower.

At one point in September, the FTSE AIM All-Share index was 13% higher, but this figure is now closer to 3% amid the impact of inflationary pressures and recent spike in Covid-19 cases.

Quantum's spectacular rise came after it changed its name from Clear Leisure and raised £1.7 million in two share placings at 0.6p and 1p to focus on the development of technology for blockchain, cryptocurrency and quantum computing.

Shares peaked at 4.5p and currently stand at 2.9p after initial findings from its R&D work showed a 9.6% speed improvement compared to the standard bitcoin mining algorithm.

Another company whose profile and share price underwent a transformation in 2021 was Zephyr Energy (LSE:ZPHR), making it the second-biggest riser on AIM with a rally of 671%.

The company, which used to be known as Rose Petroleum, has become an investment platform focused on responsibly-developed oil and gas interests in the Rocky Mountains.

Chief executive Colin Harrington said in November the company outperformed “even my most optimistic expectations”, having this year built a considerable non-operated portfolio and reached the milestone of first production from its flagship Paradox basin development.

Top 10 AIM shares of 2021

Source: Sharepad as at 23 December 2021.

Dublin-based Petroneft (LSE:PTR), which has been on AIM since 2006 and is focused on oil assets in the Tomsk Oblast region of Western Siberia, rose 408% after a year in which it not only reversed production declines but grew output by 25%.

Chief executive David Sturt said in September the company's outlook has been transformed, with operating cash flows significantly enhanced and the capital structure much improved.

He added: “While there is much more to be done, we are now in a position where the company is moving forward with strength and confidence.”


Another AIM-listed company enjoying very different fortunes is AssetCo (LSE:ASTO), the business whose new chairman is former Aberdeen Asset Management boss Martin Gilbert.

It used to provide outsourced firefighting services, but is now primarily involved in acquiring and managing asset and wealth management activities. AssetCo bought small fund management firm Saracen in the summer and has its sights set on a much larger deal after making an offer for the asset management business of River and Mercantile.

Shares are up 277% this year, providing an immediate paper profit for Gilbert's 30% stake.

The boom in used car prices proved beneficial for investors, with shares in Bristol Street Motors business Vertu Motors (LSE:VTU) up 106% at their best level in five years. Marshall Motors also finished the year 180% higher after backing a £325 million takeover at 400p a share.

Cambridge-based Marshall, which has 164 franchises covering 27 brands, received the offer from the owner of WeBuyAnyCar and Cinch after the Marshall family announced they were interested in selling their 64% stake.

Marshall's shares were already significantly higher after the end of lockdowns and a production shortage of new vehicles created “unprecedented” and “exceptional” market conditions.

John Lewis of Hungerford (LSE:JLH), which makes and sells kitchens, furniture and wall panelling, is one of the oldest companies still on AIM after listing in 1997. It enjoyed a stellar year after returning to the black and seeing order levels well ahead of the two previous years.

The company, which has a factory in Wantage, Oxfordshire, saw shares rebound 164%.

These articles are provided for information purposes only.  Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties.  The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company's or index name highlighted in the article.