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Top performing FTSE 100 stocks of 2021

Posted: 30 July 2021 8:30 pm

Here are 10 stocks that topped the returns on the FTSE 100 index.

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London's equity market has always attracted more than its fair share of interest from across the world. But since the 2016 Brexit referendum, the UK market has fallen out of favour for many investors.

Now with the country rolling out one of the most effective vaccine programs in the world and the long-running Brexit stalemate seemingly resolved, investors have multiple reasons to re-evaluate the advantages of investing in UK stocks.

One of the biggest benefits is the global and diverse nature of businesses on the UK's main stock index, the FTSE 100. It offers exposure to sectors ranging from mining, energy, banking and pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile, earnings for some of its largest companies are primarily derived from outside the UK itself.

UK equities have also typically traded at a lower price to earnings (P/E) multiple than their US counterparts, mainly due to the dominance of higher-growth technology companies on Wall Street. This gap has significantly widened following the missteps related to Brexit and the initial handling of the pandemic. That suggests UK shares are available at comparatively cheap prices.

Meanwhile, the latest data shows that the UK economy expanded by 0.8% in May, its fourth consecutive month of growth, with easing COVID-19 restrictions helping drive consumer spending higher. The gains are reflected in more than a 10% increase in the FTSE 100 index so far this year.

Biggest gains on the FTSE 100

The top performers on the index in 2021 include some usual suspects but also some complete surprises.

A few themes stand out among the best performers:

  • Pandemic boost. The top 3 stock gainers on the FTSE are companies that received a pandemic boost. These include the Royal Mail, which has benefited from a surge in deliveries due to extraordinary growth in online shopping as well as construction equipment firm Ashtead Group and home improvement company Kingfisher.
  • Cyclicals. The mix includes companies from many of the cyclical sectors such as mining, construction, financials and telecom, that are expected to benefit from the reopening of the economy as the vaccine rollout progresses globally. As such, more gains are likely in the second half of the year
  • Materials. The pandemic has not affected momentum in material stocks as commodities prices have soared. Miner Glencore and steelmaker EVRAZ are among the top performers.

The following is a list of the best performing stocks on the FTSE 100 index so far this year (to July 9). Stocks have a market cap of at least 1 billion pounds sterling.

Royal Mail plc (RMG.LSE)

Royal Mail plc operates as a universal postal service provider across UK and Europe. It offers parcels and letter delivery services under the Royal Mail and Parcelforce Worldwide brands.
  • Market cap: p2.664 billion
  • YTD performance: 22.06%
  • 1-year performance: 57.31%
  • 5-year performance: 232.88%
  • P/E ratio: 4.5375
  • Headquarters: UK

Kingfisher plc (KGF.LSE)

Kingfisher plc supplies home improvement products and services primarily in the United Kingdom, Ireland and France. The company also offers property investment, finance, digital, sourcing, and IT services.
  • Market cap: p4.867 billion
  • YTD performance: 34.36%
  • 1-year performance: 56.06%
  • 5-year performance: 263.57%
  • P/E ratio: 608.25
  • Headquarters: UK

Glencore PLC (GLEN.LSE)

Glencore plc produces, refines, processes, stores, transports, and markets metals and minerals, and energy products in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. It operates through two segments, Marketing Activities and Industrial Activities.
  • Market cap: p58.585 billion
  • YTD performance: 87%
  • 1-year performance: 49.01%
  • 5-year performance: 299.5%
  • P/E ratio: 14.7277
  • Headquarters: UK


EVRAZ plc, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the production and distribution of steel and related products in Russia, the Americas, Asia, Europe, CIS, Africa, and internationally. It operates through four segments: Steel; Steel, North America; Coal; and Other Operations.
  • Market cap: p1.182 billion
  • YTD performance: -99.83%
  • 1-year performance: -98.52%
  • 5-year performance: -98.52%
  • P/E ratio: 0.5091
  • Headquarters: UK

Ashtead Group plc (AHT.LSE)

Ashtead Group plc engages in the construction, industrial, and general equipment rental business in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. It offers products such as air compressors, compaction and earth moving, climate control services, flooring solutions, and lighting and grip.
  • Market cap: p15.712 billion
  • YTD performance: 46%
  • 1-year performance: 54.81%
  • 5-year performance: 273.54%
  • P/E ratio: 15.5133
  • Headquarters: UK

BT Group plc (BT-A.LSE)

BT Group plc provides communications products and services in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, and the Asia Pacific. It operates through Consumer, Enterprise, Global, and Openreach segments.
  • Market cap: p18.381 billion
  • YTD performance: 36.71%
  • 1-year performance: 35.7%
  • 5-year performance: 89.52%
  • P/E ratio: 14.812
  • Headquarters: UK

St. James's Place plc (STJ.LSE)

St. James's Place plc is a publicly owned investment manager.
  • Market cap: p6.084 billion
  • YTD performance: 29.04%
  • 1-year performance: 34.15%
  • 5-year performance: 122.41%
  • P/E ratio: 21.3143
  • Headquarters: UK

Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LLOY.LSE)

Lloyds Banking Group plc, together with its subsidiaries, provides a range of banking and financial services in the United Kingdom. It operates through three segments: Retail; Commercial Banking; and Insurance and Wealth.
  • Market cap: p29.278 billion
  • YTD performance: 14.6%
  • 1-year performance: 4.96%
  • 5-year performance: 76.38%
  • P/E ratio: 5.8764
  • Headquarters: UK

Entain Plc (ENT.LSE)

Entain PLC operates as a sports-betting and gaming company. The company provides online betting, casino, poker, and bingo services through mobile and web under the bwin; online and multi-channel betting under the Ladbrokes; street and online betting under the Coral; sports betting, casino, game, and poker under the Sportingbet; online bingo, sportsbook, casino, and poker access under the Betboo; and sports betting, poker, and casino games under the Crystalbet brands, as well as Gamebookers, a full-service sportsbook.
  • Market cap: p7.487 billion
  • YTD performance: -9.16%
  • 1-year performance: 5.15%
  • 5-year performance: 320.31%
  • P/E ratio: 30.154
  • Headquarters: UK

The Sage Group plc (SGE.LSE)

The Sage Group plc provides technology solutions and services for small and medium businesses in North America, Northern Europe, Central and Southern Europe, and internationally.
  • Market cap: p6.406 billion
  • YTD performance: 17.4%
  • 1-year performance: 16.17%
  • 5-year performance: 39.92%
  • P/E ratio: 22.8655
  • Headquarters: UK


SEGRO is a UK Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) and a leading owner, manager and developer of modern warehouses and light industrial property.
  • Market cap: p11.926 billion
  • YTD performance: 19.48%
  • 1-year performance: 19.43%
  • 5-year performance: 139.7%
  • P/E ratio: 2.9193
  • Headquarters: UK

Pearson PLC (PSON.LSE)

Pearson plc provides educational courseware, assessments, and services in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, the Asia Pacific, other European countries, and internationally. It operates through five segments: Assessment & Qualifications, Virtual Learning, English Language Learning, Higher Education, and Workforce Skills.
  • Market cap: p5.774 billion
  • YTD performance: 18.58%
  • 1-year performance: 41.04%
  • 5-year performance: 93.18%
  • P/E ratio: 37.3589
  • Headquarters: UK

These are not recommendations; they are intended as investment ideas only.

Image: Getty

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