It’s been a pretty good year for European stocks. The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index is set for an annual gain of about 24%, more than recovering from a selloff in 2018, and the gauge is set to end the year near a record high.
Among individual stocks, 13 companies in the index have seen their shares double in value, while the year’s worst performer — Tullow Oil Plc — fell about 64%.
This year’s top performers included a meal-kit startup and a maker of industrial compressors, while a protein shake maker and banks have been among the laggards.
And not all share-price moves were news-driven, notes Jeffrey Taylor, head of European equities at Invesco Ltd. “At a stock level, there are plenty of examples of outperformance being driven by re-rating rather than fundamentals alone,” he wrote in a note to clients.
Taylor says he’ll remain focused on value rather than growth in 2020. “We see an interesting combination of still loose monetary policy and supportive fiscal trends,” he wrote, “To us, this sounds economic-growth-friendly and growth-stock-unfriendly.”
Below we look back at a curated list of some of Europe’s most interesting winner and loser stock stories of 2019.
Altice Europe NV (+238%)
Shares of billionaire Patrick Drahi’s company jumped in August after Altice raised full-year guidance while reporting twice the growth that analysts expected in the quarter. The Amsterdam-based company has also worked at cutting its debt load through asset sales. Lucerne Capital Management Founder Pieter Taselaar said in November that the shares may triple again to 15 euros.
HelloFresh SE (+208%)
The meal kit-maker’s popularity has surged, and so has its stock price. HelloFresh’s latest quarterly update last month delivered numbers “at the very top” of guided ranges, while marketing costs have fallen, Berenberg analyst Robert Berg said.
ASM International NV (+183%)
The maker of machines used to produce semiconductors trades around an all-time high following quarterly results in November described as “much better than expected” in a note from NIBC Bank NV’s Edwin de Jong. The numbers were a relief for investors following a rough spell for chip-makers.
Galapagos NV (+133%)
Gilead Sciences Inc.’s $5.1 billion investment propelled Galapagos shares higher in July, while an earnings update later in the year showed the Belgian-listed firm’s financial position is “as strong as ever,” Barclays analyst Emily Field wrote in an Oct. 25 note to clients.
Zalando SE (+103%)
The German online fashion retailer has issued upbeat profit guidance and accelerated its sales growth by convincing more brands to use its site to sell apparel, with companies able to build their own virtual stores on the platform.
CD Projekt SA (+91%)
The Polish video-game maker responsible for the medieval role-playing series, Witcher, has been unstoppable this year and is the best performing Stoxx 600 member of the decade, up 21,000%. But the real test is coming in 2020, as a fresh title, Cyberpunk 2077, featuring actor Keanu Reeves, hits shelves.
London Stock Exchange Group Plc (+91%)
LSE managed to swerve a 29.6 billion-pound ($38.3 billion) takeover bid from Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. earlier this year, allowing it to pursue its $27 billion takeover of Refinitiv, a move that will take the 300-year-old bourse operator further away from a traditional exchange model and deeper into big data.
Atlas Copco AB (+82%)
Orders at the world’s largest maker of compressors have exceeded analyst estimates, as the Stockholm-listed firm struck a resilient tone amid concerns around global manufacturing. Atlas’s vacuum unit, which derives a large part of sales from semiconductor manufacturers, has also seen strong orders, driven by investment in new production technologies.
Greggs Plc (+81%)
An unexpected boost to earnings guidance alleviated “peak Greggs” fears in November, and it’s not just baked goods like vegan sausage rolls that are helping the company, according to Shore Capital. Analyst Darren Shirley said in a recent note that coffee has been a standout performer, while the retailer’s meal deal is market leading.
Ferrari NV (+75%)
U.K. peer Aston Martin might have had a bad year, but there’s been no stopping its Italian rival. In November, Ferrari raised guidance for 2019 and unveiled its new 200,000-euro ($220,000) Roma Coupe vehicle. The supercar company also said it is teaming up with Giorgio Armani SpA to help push its handbag and clothing lines into the premium space, predicting that branded goods will contribute 10% of earnings before interest and tax within the next 7-10 years.
Tullow Oil Plc (-64%)
Tullow fell 72% in one day in December as the London-listed firm warned of production issues in Ghana, suspended dividends and announced the exit of its chief executive officer. It was the second plunge in a month, after news that the company reassessing its discoveries in Guyana, South America, prompted a 27% drop on Nov. 13.
NMC Health (-37%)
It was a December to forget for NMC, the U.K. listed operator of hospitals in the United Arab Emirates that plummeted as U.S. short seller Muddy Waters Capital LLC said the company’s financial statements hint at potential overpayment for assets, inflated cash balances and understated debt. NMC said the claims are unfounded and is planning an independent review.
Glanbia Plc (-36%)
The Dublin-traded protein shake-maker slumped in July after a profit warning, and Goodbody analyst Jason Molins expects “muted” growth in 2020. “Given the ongoing challenges in the business and limited earnings momentum, we maintain a cautious stance,” he wrote in a note Dec. 17.
Nokia Oyj (-35%)
The Finnish telecoms firm suffered its biggest stock price drop in decades in October after it cut its outlook and suspended dividends, saying spending to fend off competitors has delayed an earnings boost from 5G mobile networks. It isn’t expecting a major recovery until 2021, and Evli Bank said last month that “prolonged” margin pressures won’t ease until 2021.
Centrica Plc (-33%)
The British gas owner slumped in July as it announced its first dividend cut since 2015, along with CEO Iain Conn‘s departure, hurt by both a government-imposed cap on consumer energy bills and by outages at nuclear plants and gas wells. The U.K. election result provided minor relief for the shares after Jeremy Corbyn’s resounding loss effectively ended the likelihood of a broad nationalization of U.K. utilities.
Swedbank AB (-30%)
The Stockholm-based bank is under investigation by authorities in several countries amid allegations that it allowed criminals to launder billions of dollars of dirty money. A purge of top bankers will lead to a “fresh start,” it said earlier this month.
Ipsen SA (-30%)
Ipsen plunged earlier this month as U.S. regulators suspended trials of a rare bone disease drug in patients under 14 years old amid safety concerns. The French firm acquired the treatment, palovarotene, via its $1.3 billion purchase of Clementia Pharmaceuticals Inc. earlier this year. CEO David Meek is stepping down at the end of December.
K+S AG (-29%)
A slate of new potash mines and China halting imports have weighed on potash prices, hurting suppliers like Germany’s K+S. The stock’s slump also coincides with a pile of debt amassed from opening a new mine in Canada.
Ambu A/S (-28%)
The unexpected firing of the Danish medical tech firm’s chief in May sparked a 20% drop in one day and sent short interest in the stock to an all-time high. New CEO Juan Jose Gonzalez has since issued two profit warnings and ended a distribution deal with Tri-anim Health Services in the U.S. Shareholder ATP said this month that the company is now on the right course.
Bankia SA (-26%)
The Valencia, Spain-based lender has dropped this year amid a decline in core revenue, while the sector was also hit by a court ruling that spurred fears Spain’s banks would have to pay billions of euros in compensation for the way they sold certain mortgages.