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10 of the best performing ASX stocks in the last year

The S&P / ASX All Ordinaries Index (Index: ^AXAO) (ASX: XAO) fell 11% over the past 12 months (to June 30, 2012), its 2nd consecutive year of falls, and only the 7th time that has happened in the past 76 years.

A low growth environment, with high savings rates and investors preferring the security of term deposits and shunning equities are probably the main culprits.

Adding in fears of slowing Chinese growth, the European debt crisis, falling commodities prices, structural changes to the retail and media sectors and the high Australian dollar (versus the US dollar), and it’s no wonder that the last couple of years have resembled a perfect storm for Australian equities markets.

Given the ASX is dominated by resources and energy stocks, it’s perhaps not surprising that many of the biggest gainers have come from those two sectors. What is surprising, is that of the ten stocks below, seven have yet to earn a profit. Investors are likely gambling on the companies producing a profit in the near future.

Company

Percentage increase*

Market Cap ($m)

Latest price

Trailing P/E ratio

Ainsworth Game Technology Ltd (ASX: AGI)

483.3%

649.3

$2.10

8.7

Buru Energy Limited (ASX: BRU)

379.4%

788.2

$3.26

NA

Sphere Minerals Limited (ASX: SPH)

183.0%

635.5

$3.00

NA

Drillsearch Energy Limited (ASX: DLS)

153.2%

337.4

$1.05

NA

Senex Energy Limited (ASX: SXY)

97.2%

705.5

$0.735

NA

Red Fork Energy Limited (ASX: RFE)

96.0%

228.0

$0.745

NA

Newsat Limited (ASX: NWT)

86.7%

130.5

$0.58

NA

Papillon Resources Limited (ASX: PIR)

77.3%

237.5

$1.01

NA

Dragon Mountain Gold (ASX: DMG)

72.7%

148.5

$0.57

1.3

Webjet Limited (ASX: WEB)

69.4%

240.3

$3.49

21.3

*Percentage increase 30/6/11 – 30/6/12. Source: Capital IQ and Google Finance

Let’s take a look at the top three.

Ainsworth Game Technology

Ainsworth is a poker machine maker, started and run by ex-Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL) founder, Len Ainsworth. The stock has been on a tear since reporting its maiden profit in 2011, and its future prospects look bright. Trading on a prospective P/E of 8, despite the 483% rise, the company looks cheap compared to Aristocrat, which is trading on a prospective P/E of over 13.

Buru Energy

Buru made a name for itself last financial year, as it exploration program paid off with the first conventional oil find in the Canning basin of North-Western Australia since the 1980s. According to the Australian Financial Review, executive director Eric Streitberg has even mortgaged his house to put money into the company, going “all in”. Buru’s tenements may hold 226 trillion feet of shale gas. The company is expected to start producing positive cash flows and profits in 2013, but it’s the potential value of the oil resources that have driven the price up.

Sphere Minerals

Sphere is a West African iron ore explorer, focused on Mauritania. The company received a takeover bid from mining giant, Xstrata PLC’s (LON: XTA) subsidiary Sidero Pty Limited in August 2010 for $2.50 per share. A major shareholder, Singaporean based Sin-Tang developments, with 13.5% of Sphere rejected the bid, which stopped Sidero from acquiring more than 90 per cent of the company — hence the reason Sphere is still listed and trading.

Sidero raised the offer price to $3 but that has now lapsed. with Sidero owning 87.8%, Qatar Steel now holding 7.8% and Aus-Ore Investments holding 4.2% (after Sin-Tang disposed of its holdings), Sphere Minerals could be one of the most illiquid listed stocks on the ASX.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned. The Motley Fool‘s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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