Best and worst FTSE 100 shares so far in 2021

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The FTSE 100 finished the second quarter up 10.9% since the start of the 2021, not the best but not the worst of the major stock indices around the world.


Best performing of London’s blue chips was Royal Mail Group PLC (LON:RMG), up a barnstorming 71% since the turn of the year on the back of a turnaround in the delivery group’s fortunes thanks to the pandemic-driven boom online shopping deliveries.


Following the former state-owned company the top 10 risers in the Footsie included Ashtead Group PLC (LON:AHT), Entain PLC (LON:ENT), BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A) and Kingfisher PLC (LON:KGF).


Many of these were bounce-back stories, with Royal Mail, BT and Kingfisher all coming into the pandemic with their shares trading around long-term lows.


Not so for Ashtead or Entain, which are both making gains on the back of their US businesses.


Having surged over 2,000% from under GBP1 to over GBP20 in the past decade, construction equipment hire group Ashtead picked itself up after a coronavirus stumble to surge towards the 5,500p mark.


Similarly but much less strikingly, Ladbrokes and Coral owner Entain by January had wiped off last year’s losses to reach a new high in January and then has continued to climb since then.


Of next five blue chip bouncers – Glencore PLC (LON:GLEN), Johnson Matthey PLC (LON:JMAT), Evraz PLC (LON:EVR) – have only really regained their earlier levels after a slower rebound that had picked up with the commodity uptick lately.


Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY) is also below where it started 2020, with its outperformance in 2021 coming after the banking sector’s gradual revival last year but increasing optimism about the UK economy and a return to dividend payments from the high street lenders.


St James’s Place PLC (LON:SJP) is the only one of this second quintet that has surged up to new levels, having notched a new all-time high this week, helped by a new five-year growth target of 10% in February and bullish update in May.


On the other side of the coin, the worst FTSE 100 shares for the first half of this year are a diverse bunch.


With companies exposed to online shopping and ordering trends (Ocado Group PLC and Just Eat Takeaway.com NV), cyber-security (Avast PLC), US igaming (Flutter Entertainment PLC), financial data (London Stock Exchange Group PLC) and expected rebounds in international travel (Melrose Industries PLC and Rolls-Royce Group PLC) and business events (Informa PLC), it does not look too bad a portfolio for a contrarian investor on similar lines to the Dogs of the Dow/FTSE strategy.


Precious metals miner Fresnillo PLC (LON:FRES) has been the biggest dog in the first two quarters of 2021, having been buffed up to a two-year high last summer but tumbled since then as it struggles to turn around its eponymous mine and ramp up other projects.


Second-worst has been Tesco PLC (LON:TSCO), which has slumped back to the bottom of the 210p-310p channel the shares have been beating a path between for the past five years. While the sector’s recent M&A interest and increased online shopping trends might seem positive, investors seem more worried about potential threats, such as a lurking Amazon and the rise of a host of on-demand grocery startups.


Best-performing FTSE 100 shares in H1 2021


Company H1 share price performance %
Royal Mail Group PLC 71
Ashtead Group PLC 56
Entain PLC 54
BT Group PLC 46.7
Kingfisher PLC 34.8
Glencore PLC 32.8
St James’s Place PLC 30.3
Lloyds Banking Group PLC 28.1
Johnson Matthey PLC 26.7
Evraz PLC 25.5

Price data: AJ Bell


Worst-performing FTSE 100 shares in H1 2021


Company H1 share price performance %
Fresnillo PLC -31.7
Tesco PLC -23.9
Just Eat Takeaway.Com NV -19
Flutter Entertainment PLC -13
Melrose Industries PLC -12.9
Ocado Group PLC -12.4
London Stock Exchange Group PLC -11.5
Rolls-Royce Group PLC -11.1
Avast PLC -8.87
Informa PLC -8.63

Price data: AJ Bell

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