Questor has had a dismal year. The average return on our stock tips since Jan 1 has been a loss of almost 2pc, while the market, on a comparable basis, has risen by 5.1pc. Exactly half of the 50 stocks tipped for the first time in 2021 as a buy or hold have fallen and half have risen.
This performance stands in stark contrast with that of last year, when our tips rose by an average of 30.6pc, outperformed the FTSE 100 by 27.7 percentage points and suffered only 10 losers out of 59 stocks tipped for the first time. This was an extraordinary set of results and we should not be surprised that this year has failed to live up to it. None the less, to make an overall loss and underperform the index is disappointing and we must look for the reasons.
There is a clue in the common theme among last year’s winners, which were often tech companies or those well placed to benefit from the upheaval caused by the pandemic.
And we benefited from some spectacular gains among those stocks: CrowdStrike, an American computer security firm, gained 274pc following our tip in January 2020, while Frontier Developments profited from the popularity of computer gaming during lockdowns and its shares rose by 162pc between our tip in March and the end of last year.
Several other Questor selections, such as Ocado and Games Workshop, put on more than 80pc.
Again, the contrast with this year is sobering. Our best gain in 2021 was 50.7pc from Marks & Spencer, which we advised readers to buy in May. Shares in AMD, the chipmaker, have risen by 41.5pc since our tip in August and “robotics software” firm Blue Prism’s 40.1pc since June comes next.
Three others, Vivendi, the French media giant, Totally, the Aim-quoted NHS outsourcer, and Accenture, the consultancy firm, rose by between 20pc and 30pc. Rises from Sainsbury’s, Covid treatment maker Synairgen, Montana Aerospace, i3 Energy, tour operator Tui, engineer Spirax-Sarco, BP, trendy mixer business Fever-Tree and PepsiCo were at least in double figures.
Halfords, Wickes, component maker Essentra, packaging firm DS Smith, JP Morgan Chase, the builders Redrow and Bellway, Lam Research, the semiconductor equipment maker, Admiral and the engineer Ricardo have produced just single-figure gains.