Barratt Developments ranked number five with a total return on its share price, from 31 December to 17 December 2019, of 72.1 per cent. This includes shareholders reinvesting their dividends.
Taylor Wimpey was up 54.9 per cent and ranked seventh while Persimmon claimed the tenth spot of the best performing companies with a 49.3 per cent return.
Overall the FTSE 100 achieved a 17.2 per cent return in 2019. The top two performing companies, JD Sports and AVEVA, began the year as FTSE 250 companies and achieved promotion to FTSE 100 in June, for the first time in either of the firms’ histories.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “The FTSE 100 may have confounded a few doubters with a 17.2 per cent total return in 2019 despite concerns over a weak economic growth, Brexit and the December General Election.”
Mould said sceptics would argue, however, that the UK still under-performed globally by lagging behind the FTSE All-World’s total return by six percentage points.
He added: “A trio of housebuilders also features in the top ten. Their net cash balance sheets and ongoing programmes to return cash to shareholders via dividends or share buybacks, or even both, generated interest, especially as their yields stood out in a low-interest-rate world. Promises from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to revisit stamp duty land tax in the run-up to the December election also boosted sentiment.”
Earlier this week, the findings of an independent review into Persimmon, commissioned by the housebuilder found the company was responsible for a “systemic nationwide” failing when fitting cavity barriers which could prevent a fire, with them either missing or improperly installed. It put this failing down to a “manifestation of poor culture coupled with the lack of a group build process”.
The review conducted by Stephanie Barwise QC of the law firm Atkin Chambers concluded that the corporate culture at Persimmon led the housebuilder to produce poor quality homes, which exposed owners to an “intolerable risk” should a fire occur.
The housebuilder has now moved to inspect 16,000 properties to determine whether cavity barriers have been correctly fitted, with promises to put right any errors it finds.
Earlier this year Persimmon confirmed it was slowing down its building process in a bid to improve the quality of homes produced, while its former chief executive Jeff Fairburn left following controversy over his £75m bonus.