2018 was a challenging year for Singapore investors. The Straits Times Index (SGX: ^STI), Singapore’s stock market barometer, was down by 9.8% in 2018.
Despite the market decline for the year, there are a number of stocks that delivered positive returns in 2018.
In this series of articles, I will look back into the year and identify six of the index’s biggest winners, as well as six of the largest losers. In this article, I will be covering the winners from the first to third position. The first part of the series can be found here and here.
The third best performer
In third place is ComfortDelgro Corporation Limited (SGX: C52), a transport company with operations mainly in Singapore, Australia, the United Kingdom, and China. It is also the majority owner of vehicle and non-vehicle testing and inspection outfit Vicom Limited (SGX: V01) and bus and rail services operator SBS Transit Ltd (SGX: S61).
In 2018, Comfortdelgro’s shares climbed by 8.6% in price.
For the first nine months ended 30 September 2018, Comfortdegro delivered a 5.0% year-on-year improvement in revenue. Yet, its profit after tax fell by 6.6% year-on-year mainly as a result of weaker performance in the taxi-related businesses.
Going forward, ComfortDelGro is setting up a US$100 million corporate venture capital fund to focus on incubation and investments in mobility technologies and solutions which will help complement the parent company’s existing land transport business. The fund will be called ComfortDelGro Capital Partners. Though there is no guarantee that such investments will bear fruits, investors should find some comfort knowing that the management is trying to adapt itself in the new operating environment.
The second best performer
We’re getting close to the winner now. In fact, second-placed Jardine Matheson Holdings Limited (SGX: J36) is closely related the winner. But before revealing the winner, let’s have a quick look at Jardine Matheson.
Jardine Matheson is a conglomerate with diverse business interests, mainly through its directly-owned subsidiaries and various investments. Its business activities range from properties, supermarkets, motors and many more.
In 2018, Jardine Matheson’s share price was up by 14.5%. In fact, its year-end share price of US$69.48 is hovering around its peak for the last five years. Moreover, its first six months performance for 2018 was ahead of that of 2017. Both revenue and underlying net profit rose 14% and 7%, respectively, as compared to last year. As such, it’s reasonable to see its share price improving over the same period as well.
The best performer
Finally, in the first place we have Dairy Farm International Holdings Ltd (SGX: D01), which saw its share price grew by 15.1%. In other words, it outperformed the index by more than 25% in 2018.
For those who are new to the company, Dairy Farm is a conglomerate with four main business segments: Food, Health and Beauty, Home Furnishings, and Restaurants. In Singapore, Dairy Farm is the owner of stores such as Guardian, Cold Storage, Giant Hypermarket, and 7-Eleven. In fact, Dairy Farm is a subsidiary of Jardine Strategic Holdings Limited (SGX: J37) , which in turn, is majority owned by Jardine Matheson.
The positive performance in Dairy Farm’s share price is reasonable. For the first half ended 30 June 2018, Dairy Farm reported that sales grew by 8% from a year ago to US$5.9 billion. Similarly, profit attributable to shareholders was up 6% year-on-year.
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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Lawrence Nga doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned. Motley Fool has recommendations for Dairy Farm International Holdings Ltd, Vicom Ltd, and SBS Transit Ltd.