Interactive Investor

The top five FTSE All-Share stocks since the March low

20th July 2020 13:01

Jemma Jackson from interactive investor


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This pandemic has shown us that anything is possible. Our expert looks at the triple-digit risers.

interactive investor, the UK’s second-largest direct to consumer investment platform, reveals the five FTSE All-Share stocks that have bounced back the most from the sharp Covid-19 market fall in March. That is, for now at least: what this pandemic has shown us is that anything is possible, and gains can easily be reversed.

The biggest gainer to date was Premier Foods (LSE:PFD), which saw its share price soar 345% since the FTSE All Share hit the low point on 23 March - the day the UK entered the coronavirus lockdown - to market close 16 July 2020. 

In second place was telecoms firm BATM Advanced Communications (LSE:BVC), followed by Tullow Oil (LSE:TLW) in third place, boasting returns of 213% and 203% respectively. William Hill (LSE:WMH) and Halfords (LSE:HFD) complete the top five, each returning 187% over the period.

Whilst up strongly since the market lows, three of the top five performers are still down over the year to date. Indeed, the FTSE All-Share is up 26% since the March lows, but down 18% over the year to date.

The five best-performing FTSE All Share since 23 March 2020

Stock Performance since 23 March to market close 16 July 2020
Premier Foods 345%
BATM Advanced Communications 213%
Tullow Oil 203%
William Hill 187%
Halford Group 187%

Richard Hunter, Head of Markets, interactive investor, says: “When it became clear that the health and economic effects of the pandemic would be severe, investors took flight in early March.

“As such, markets were marked down sharply and, for the most part, on an indiscriminate basis.

“Perhaps not surprisingly, there have been any number of treble-digit percentage recoveries from shares since the nadirs of late March, although for some the recovery has still not undone the damage of these declines.

“For the FTSE All-Share, itself up 26% since the March lows, but down 18% in the year to date, the top ten recovery stocks are typically smaller companies.

“Top of the list is Premier Foods (LSE:PFD), which has had a very strong 2020, up 345% since March and 140% in the year to date.

“The company, whose brands include Mr Kipling, Sharwood’s, Bisto and Batchelors, has seen the benefit of stockpiling and stay-at-home cooking trends during lockdown. In addition, changes to its pension fund have resulted in a current surplus of £1.2 billion.

“The company has posted 11 consecutive quarters of UK growth, helped in part by a relaunch of Mr Kipling in 2018.

“Bio-medical and cybersecurity solutions provider BATM Advanced Communications (LSE:BVC) comes in second, up 213% since March and 300% in the year so far.

“The bio-medical division is the one in the spotlight, with strong demand having been seen for its Covid-19 tests and ventilators.

“The company claims that its tests detect a human body's immune response to the infection caused by the virus rather than detecting the virus itself. In July, it upgraded its test kits to include one able to test for multiple respiratory pathogens at the same time. 

“Despite a surge of 203% since March, Tullow Oil (LSE:TLW) shares remain 53% down in the year to date, which reflects an example of percentages which can be flattered on a share price coming from a lower base. The longer-term story has been less positive, with the current share price of 30p comparing to 325p in January 2017.

“Even so, developments in the company’s debt-reduction drive, including the proposed sale of its Ugandan oilfield stake for £460 million, are part of a plan to raise over £800 million to reduce group debt and strengthen the balance sheet.

“Fourth in the list is William Hill (LSE:WMH), whose 187% rise since March cannot hide the year to date performance, where the shares remain down 36%.

“One of the many effects of lockdown was the complete absence of major sporting events which, along with the closure of its betting shops, was estimated to have cost the company £25 million per month while shut.

“Similar to its peers (GVC Holdings (LSE:GVC) is at number 10 in the list and 888 Holdings number 12), fortunes have improved significantly after the return of sport, albeit behind closed doors. In addition, William Hill has designs on the massively lucrative US online gambling market and a £224 million fundraising in June was designed partly with this in mind, to "enable the group to pursue its long-term growth ambitions, strengthen its balance sheet and increase its strategic and financial flexibility".

Halfords (LSE:HFD) is another share with different shorter-term and longer-term performances. The shares have rallied 187% since March, but are down 8% in the year to date, still a far cry from previously higher levels, with the shares down 71% over the last five years.

“The more recent jump is mostly due to Halfords’ cycling unit, which accounts for around 40% of its revenues. Cycling sales jumped by over 50% as lockdown restrictions were incrementally eased, although this was offset by a 45% decline in its higher margin motoring category. 

“Even so, the overall decline in sales was much less than the market had feared, especially since a third of stores were closed and the balance operating on a click-and-collect basis.

“Overall, investors should be wary of “off the clock” recent share price performances in isolation, which are often better viewed in the context of the company’s general progress and momentum.”

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.

Related Categories

    UK shares
    Consumer goods and services
    Health care
    Cyber security

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