Another year has just passed.
This year has taught us how to live with COVID-19 and the resilience of the human spirit.
Though faced with adversity, we have triumphed with the release of vaccines and measures to tackle the virus.
Though the latest Omicron variant has scientists scrambling to determine its severity, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) has reassured that it can come up with a new vaccine within 100 days.
Amid the uncertainty, some companies still managed to excel and record strong growth.
Here is a look at the five best-performing stocks of 2021.
Note: Share prices are compiled as of 30 November 2021, with gains inclusive of dividends. A minimum market capitalization of S$200 million is applied.
Azeus Systems Holdings Ltd (SGX: BBW)
2021’s top performer is Azeus Systems Holdings, a leading IT services provider based in Hong Kong.
The company’s share price jumped six-fold from S$1.40 on 1 January 2021 to $8.40 on 30 November 2021.
Azeus has an impressive global presence.
The group’s flagship product, Azeus Convene, is a paperless meeting app that is used by customers in over 100 countries.
The software is specially designed for usage by senior executives, with strong mechanisms to ensure data protection and security.
Demand for digital services such as Azeus Convene grew during the pandemic, and this heightened demand was reflected in the group’s financial performance.
For the fiscal first half ended 30 September 2021, Azeus’ revenue grew 20% year on year to reach HKD 95.4 million, while net profit jumped 60% year on year to HKD 17.5 million.
Grand Venture Technology Ltd (SGX: JLB)
Runner-up in the standings is Grand Venture Technology (GVT), a manufacturing and service provider for various industries including semiconductors and life sciences analytics.
The company’s business has boomed during the pandemic.
In its latest business update, GVT announced that for the first nine months of 2021 (9M2021), revenue climbed 95.9% year on year, while net profit surged by 270% compared to the same period a year ago.
The impressive growth brought GVT’s revenue and net profit for the period to S$85.4 million and S$13.7 million respectively.
GVT mainly benefitted from a global surge in demand for semiconductors.
Semiconductor manufacturing is the group’s largest segment, contributing 73.1% of revenue in 9M2021.
GVT’s share price grew in tandem with its excellent results, soaring from S$0.33 to $1.25 during the year.
Place Holdings Ltd (SGX: E27)
Coming in third position is Place Holdings Ltd, an investment holding company with three main business pillars: cultural tourism, property, and integrated media.
In 2021, the company’s share price tripled from S$0.03 to S$0.09, with its market capitalization reaching nearly S$500 million.
On the financial front, Place Holdings had a rather muted year.
Revenue inched up by 4% year on year in the first half of the year to S$584,000, although profit attributable to shareholders rose 22% year on year to S$2.4 million.
The better profit performance was due to other income of S$4.1 million arising from the sale of a 1.2% stake in a property development subsidiary.
Looking forward, the group announced that it would continue to actively pursue potential investment, collaboration and expansion projects to boost growth and shareholder value.
The Hour Glass (SGX: AGS)
Next on the list is The Hour Glass (THG), a world-leading specialist watch retailer with 50 boutiques in 12 cities around Asia.
THG is a proud official retailer of luxury brands such as Rolex, Patek Phillipe and Hublot.
The company enjoyed a bumper 2021 thanks to a resurgence in demand for premium watches.
In its fiscal 2022 first half, the group’s revenue increased by 63% year on year to S$477.4 million, while net profit more than doubled year on year from S$29.7 million to S$62.5 million.
THG’s share price grew in tandem with the good results, surging from S$0.80 to S$2.07 during the year.
In addition, the company also paid an interim dividend of S$0.02 per share, the same amount as the prior year.
iFAST Corporation Ltd (SGX: AIY)
Rounding off the list is iFAST, a homegrown wealth management fintech company.
Impressively, iFAST was also one of the top five performers of 2020, when the company’s profits more than doubled due to an influx of new investors during the height of the pandemic.
iFAST has continued to fire on all cylinders.
For the nine months ended 30 September 2021, the company’s revenue improved by 32.5% year on year, while net profit hit S$23.4 million, growing 63.6% year on year.
The company achieved several other milestones in 2021.
iGM, the group’s wealth advisory arm, saw assets under administration cross S$1 billion for the first time.
The company also launched stockbroking services in Malaysia, and won a lucrative eMPF contract in Hong Kong, which should vastly accelerate the growth of the company’s Hong Kong division.
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Disclosure: Herman Ng owns shares of iFAST Corporation Ltd.