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Oil sector dominates the list of the year's stock market stars

It was a good year for a number of energy firms but the less said about companies dependent on the housing market or a healthy high street, the better

Oil rig
Oil companies were on fire this year

We’ve looked at the best and worst performers on AIM and the Footsie; welcome now to the worst and best of the rest.

The worst performing stock on the main market in 2018 was turnaround play WideCells Group PLC (LON:WDC), the stem cells specialist.

The share price fell off a cliff in May when the company announced the delay of the publication of its 2017 results and a heavily discounted share placing.

A fund-raising completed in September drew a line under funding needs, according to the chief executive officer, Joao Andrade.

 

The shares lost 99% of their value in 2018 so it is unlikely they will ever return to former heights but hopefully, the future of the company has been secured.

Throughout the latter part of the year, I was mainly assigned to market reports and the major movers on Proactive and one name kept on cropping up: Matomy Media Group Ltd (LON:MTMY).

I must confess I often elected not to cover the story because it involved what looks like a messy and complicated dispute with its bondholders. As a Christmas present to myself, I am going to swerve covering the story in any great detail in this end of year round-up as well but so far as I can tell, Matomy wants to amend the terms of its outstanding bonds and some bondholders are not keen on the idea.

The shares fell 94% in 2018.

To be dependent on shoppers or house buyers was unfortunate; to be dependent on both was disastrous

As one might expect, stocks dependent on shoppers or the housing market had a rough year.

In the former category, Debenhams PLC (LON:DEB) shed 89% as it made a record annual loss and doubts surfaced about its ability to survive, with the sector’s undertaker, Mike Ashley, hanging around to take advantage of its demise.

Meanwhile, convenience store retailer McColl’s Retail Group Ltd (LON:MCLS) shed 81% in a year where the collapse of wholesaler Palmer and Harvey caused it no end of trouble.

In the housing market, few people – except those holding the shares – are likely to shed many tears over estate agency outfit Countrywide PLC (LON:CWD), which had an emergency fundraising in August.

The shares were down 92% on the year and have virtually halved since that rescue rights issue.

Meanwhile, carpets flogger Carpetright PLC (LON:CPR) counts as both a victim of the subdued housing market and of the well-known travails of the high street. It lost 91% of its value and as David Bowie once sang, the wall-to-wall was calling but – touch wood – the turnaround plan seems to be working.

Moving on to the year’s winners on the main market, I doubt many would have predicted at the beginning of the year that the top performer would be an energy company focused on the Netherlands and the North Sea.

Step forward, however, Rockrose Energy PLC (LON:RRE), which shot up 341%, with much of the gain coming after it acquired a portfolio of North Sea assets.

READ RockRose Energy unveils transformational North Sea deal

In fact, the energy sector was well represented among the winners, with JKX Oil and Gas PLC (LON:JKX) soaring after the UK High Court dismissed a claim against the company by the Government of Ukraine, Upland Resources Ltd (LON:UPL) surging after it hooked with state-owned Brooke Dockyard to explore and develop hydrocarbon assets in Malaysia, and Gulf Keystone Petroleum Limited (LON:GKP) putting its late payments problems in Kurdistan behind it as it gave a long-awaited green-light to an investment programme intended to reinvigorate production from the Shaikan field.

It was generally not a good year for construction and engineering companies, as witnessed by Interserve’s 89% slump, so we’ll end by saluting NMCN PLC (LON:NMCN), the company formerly known by the perfectly acceptable name of North Midland Construction.

The stock crept into the top 10 performers with a 55% gain, with much of that coming in the final third of the year after a sparkling set of half-year figures.

READ North Midland Construction shares jump a third as profit doubles

 

Rank

Company

% change

Company

% change

1

Rockrose Energy

+341%

Widecells

-99%

2

JKX Oil and gas

+218%

Matomy Media

-94%

3

Upland Resources

+135%

KSK Power

-94%

4

Bergenbro

+123%

Countrywide

-92%

5

BATM

+69%

Carpetright

-91%

6

Gulf Keystone Petroleum

+58%

Debenhams

-89%

7

Grand Fortune High Grade

+58%

Interserve

-89%

8

Gem Diamonds

+57%

Berkeley Energia

-86%

9

NMCN

+55%

Hardy Oil & Gas

-85%

10

Unisys

+53%

McColl's Retail

-80%


 

Quick facts: RockRose Energy PLC

Price: 1735 GBX

LSE:RRE
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £227.12 m
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