Every year, people make and lose vast amounts of money playing the stock markets. Predicting what will happen is notoriously difficult, but if you backed these British companies in 2015, life is probably looking pretty good right now.
Of the top ten gainers on the FTSE100 index in 2015 — all of which saw their value increase my more than 30% — four were major property developers.
This is all thanks to the worst kept secret in the country right now: Britain needs more housing.
The UK’s markets shut for the year at 12:30 p.m. GMT (7:30 a.m. ET) on New Year’s Eve and we can officially say that 2015 was a pretty lousy year for Britain’s biggest companies.
The blue-chip FTSE100 index lost more than 7% of its value, the index’s worst performance since the financial crisis, driven down by struggling mining firms, who were themselves, crushed by the continuing commodity price crash.
A handful of companies even saw their share value drop by more than half.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, and, as ever, some companies really took off this year. While the FTSE’s biggest failures were all mining companies, the biggest success stories in Britain’s markets in 2015 were the house builders.
The chronic undersupply of housing in the UK, which has sent demand and prices for property skyrocketing in the past few years has allowed property developers to capitalise and make big profits, buoying investors’ hopes, and helping to send share prices up hugely.
These were the top performing stocks on the FTSE100:
- DCC — up 62.39%
- Taylor Wimpey — up 51.71%
- Hargreaves Lansdown — up 50.8%
- Berkeley Group — up 49.01%
- Inmarsat — up 43.31%
- Direct Line Group — up 41.76%
- Provident Financial — up 37.99%
- Barratt Developments — up 37.66%
- Carnival — up 33.62%
- Persimmon — up 30.56%
Housebuilders may make up a big share of the most improved companies of 2015, but it’s a relatively unknown firm that topped the pile. Irish-headquarted DCC, which describes itself as “an international sales, marketing, distribution and business support services group,” was up 62.39% in 2015. The company killed it this year, and in its interim results in September announced profit growth of 26%, along with a 4% bump in top line revenues.
FTSE250 companies soar
The FTSE100 may have been down this year, despite the best efforts of the property companies, but it was a different story on the FTSE250, which gained almost as much as the 100 lost, finishing the year 6.8% above January 1’s market open.
The top stocks on the FTSE250 were a little bit more diverse, but two property-based firms — online estate agent Right Move, and Redrow, a property developer, feature in the top ten stocks. Given the smaller size of the companies on the index, it’s not surprising that the biggest gainers far outstripped the performance of those on the FTSE100. These are the FTSE250’s biggest gainers in 2015:
- Betfair — up 151.46%
- JD Sports — up 105.75%
- NMC Health — up 86.41%
- Supergroup — up 85.86%
- Rightmove — up 85.56%
- Greggs — up 79.52%
- Rank Group — up 78.78%
- OneSavings Bank — up 70.95%
- RPC Group — up 69.55%
- Redrow — up 65.44%
With 2016 just hours away predictions for how British markets will perform next year are generally positive. According to a poll from Interactive Investor, the vast majority of investors expect UK stocks to climb in 2016, with more than 75% betting on a rise of more than 150 points. 26% think that despite getting routed this year, commodity stocks are the best bet for 2016.
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