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FTSE 100 bull market: which stocks are the top performers?

The FTSE 100 market crash can be said to have ended on 23 March, even though it may not feel that way for now. The UK’s main index has risen by more than 20% since the bottom of the crash. According to most definitions, this percentage rise defines the start of a new bull market, and not a mere correction or dead-cat bounce.

The gain made by the FTSE 100 is actually around 23% at the time of writing. However, the 100 or so stocks that make up the index have had vastly different fortunes. Investors who pick stocks from the FTSE 100, whose portfolio’s performance echoes that of the stocks selected, might already be aware of the differences in fortunes. For those that are not, I have crunched the numbers and identified the 10 best-performing FTSE 100 stocks since 23 March as of the end of last week.

FTSE 100 top performers

The bull market best performers have all returned more than 50%, significantly outperforming the FTSE 100’s 23%. They are a mixed bunch. Looking at the table below, no two come from the same FTSE ICB Sector or Subsector.

Company FTSE ICB Sector FTSE ICB Subsector Share price gain
Ashtead Group Industrial Transportation Commercial Vehicle-Equipment Leasing 73.41%
Flutter Entertainment Travel and Leisure Casinos and Gambling 70.96%
Intermediate Capital Group Investment Banking and Brokerage Services Asset Managers and Custodians 68.77%
Ocado Personal Care, Drug and Grocery Stores Food Retailers and Wholesalers 64.60%
Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Closed-End Investments Closed-End Investments 55.32%
DCC Industrial Support Services Security Services 55.31%
JD Sports Fashion Retailers Apparel Retailers 55.25%
Ferguson Industrial Support Services Industrial Suppliers 54.08%
Polymetal International Precious Metals and Mining Gold Mining 53.40%
Just Eat Software and Computer Services Consumer Digital Services 52.34%

It is straightforward to come up with a reason for the presence of some. Take for example Polymetal International, a gold and precious metal miner. The price of gold has been on a tear, and with the recessionary environment, and loose monetary policy, its price is expected to continue to do well. Ocado is an online grocer (which also profits handsomely from selling its technical knowhow) and has struggled to keep up with the demand (which should persist) for deliveries. Just Eat is benefiting from demand for takeaway meals, comfort during the lockdown, and a replacement for eating out.

Capital Idea

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust has a large exposure to gold miners, which in turn explains its performance. Intermediate Capital Group is an alternative asset manager, involved in real estate and private debt and equity. As public equity markets slumped, investors seem to have reached for exposure to alternative investments.

JD Sports may have benefited from people taking up the one hour of permitted exercise each day and needing running shoes and clothes. In addition, once lockdowns are lifted, spending on clothing in general might get a boost through delayed purchases being made in one big splurge. Those struggling to find things to do during lockdown might be turning to Flutter Entertainment for excitement.

Industrial action

Number one performer Ashtead Group leases equipment to industrial and construction companies, which have been hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak. With money tight, buying equipment outright might be off the cards. Luckily Ashtead is there to lease it.

I once lamented the fact that the market recovery was lacking in support from cyclical and consumer discretionary stocks. Ferguson, a distributor of plumbing and heating products, and Ashtead are examples of such stocks. Perhaps this is a sign that this bull market will persist.

DCC is somewhat misleadingly labelled as being in the security services subsector. DCC is involved in the sales and marketing of LPG, petrol and oil. Its robust performance could again lend credence to the longevity of the bull market. However, It also provides products and services to healthcare providers and routes to market for tech firms.

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James J. McCombie has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of Flutter Entertainment. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Just Eat Takeaway.com N.V. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.