We’ve seen some storming FTSE 100 share price leaps in 2021. But which of the year’s winners still look like buys today, even after their gains? It depends a lot on an individual investor’s strategy. But here are three firmly on my shortlist.
BT Group (LSE: BT-A) can’t blame Covid-19 for its recent poor stock market performance. No, the telecoms giant’s share price has been weakening for years. Against the background of the BT share price slide, I can’t even see the 2020 stock market crash. But anyone who bought at the end of 2020 is sitting on a 2021 profit of approximately 40%, so far.
The shares are still down more than 50% over the past five years mind, while the FTSE 100 is up 15%. And the reason seems clear enough. BT’s profits have been sliding, year after year. The company has been hampered with debt and with its longstanding pension fund deficit too. But I reckon I saw signs of change in its 2020 results.
BT plans to resume payments in 2021-22, at 7.7p, half the 2019 level. The expected reduction in pension fund repayments, starting in 2024, dropping from £900m to £600m per year, should help with cashflow too. In all, I reckon BT might finally be pulling things around. But any hiccups in debt or cashflow could still bite.
My next pick, WPP (LSE: WPP), has been turning things around too. The FTSE 100 advertising and PR giant went into a slump after the departure of founder and CEO Martin Sorrell. Over five years, WPP shares have lost around a third of their value. But after a sharp slump in the 2020 crash, the price has been coming back.
Over 12 months, WPP has put on more than 40%. And 2021 accounts for a gain of a little over 25%. But where is the business going now? Companies slashed their advertising and media spend during the Covid crisis, and that led to WPP recording a loss in 2020. But as economies reopen, and forecasters predict strong growth, companies need to get back to wooing their potential customers.
It’ll be hard to put a valuation on WPP shares until the company is back to sustainable profits. And I could be premature in my expectations on that score. But WPP has been buying back its own shares in 2021, so it’s not just me who thinks they’re cheap.
Biggest FTSE 100 winner
The biggest 2021 rise of my three choices comes from Melrose (LSE: MRO). This investment company acquires underperforming engineering firms and tries to turn them round. During the 2020 stock market crash, we might argue there were plenty of potential targets going cheap. But, at the same time, the prospects for rescuing troubled businesses were also hammered, and Melrose suffered.
The Melrose share price has doubled since the start of 2021, which might look like a great performance. But that’s just getting back to where it started before the pandemic. Over two years, the shares are pretty much flat, just a shade ahead of the FTSE 100.
The big question now is whether the prospects for Melrose justify a valuation that’s in line with pre-crash levels. That’s where the risk lies. But I’ve always liked the company’s long-term prospects, and that hasn’t changed.
Markets around the world are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic…
And with so many great companies trading at what look to be ‘discount-bin’ prices, now could be the time for savvy investors to snap up some potential bargains.
But whether you’re a newbie investor or a seasoned pro, deciding which stocks to add to your shopping list can be daunting prospect during such unprecedented times.
Fortunately, The Motley Fool is here to help: our UK Chief Investment Officer and his analyst team have short-listed five companies that they believe STILL boast significant long-term growth prospects despite the global lock-down…
You see, here at The Motley Fool we don’t believe “over-trading” is the right path to financial freedom in retirement; instead, we advocate buying and holding (for AT LEAST three to five years) 15 or more quality companies, with shareholder-focused management teams at the helm.
That’s why we’re sharing the names of all five of these companies in a special investing report that you can download today for FREE. If you’re 50 or over, we believe these stocks could be a great fit for any well-diversified portfolio, and that you can consider building a position in all five right away.
Alan Oscroft has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Melrose. 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.