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A blue chip review for 2013

Australia’s blue chip stocks have dominated for the majority of 2013, leading the market to fresh multi-year highs and delivering investors with substantial returns. With the year drawing to a close, a quick review seems in order to look at just how great those returns have been:

Key Financials

Despite a significant dip in May, Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) shares have soared 24% (not including dividends) as investors have sought out high-yielding dividend stocks. It has become the ASX’s largest company with a market capitalisation of $124 billion.

Like Commonwealth Bank, Westpac (ASX: WBC), ANZ (ASX: ANZ) and NAB (ASX: NAB) have also soared to record or multi-year highs this year. Westpac gained 23.4% after falling away slightly in November, while ANZ and NAB grew 28.3% and an incredible 39% respectively. Macquarie Group (ASX: MQG), Australia’s fifth major bank, also had a very successful year having climbed from $35.49 to $55.31 – a 56.4% return!

Miners and Resources

BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) entered 2013 as Australia’s largest company by market capitalisation, but now resides in second place after a below-par year. Its shares have rallied strongly since July, but have gained just 0.5% since the beginning of the year. Like BHP, Rio Tinto’s (ASX: RIO) shares have risen substantially since July, as confidence has returned to the sector but finished the year having also gained just 1.2%.

Newcrest Mining (ASX: NCM) was by far the worst performing blue chip company. Plagued by controversies and a diminishing gold price its shares plunged 65.7% from $22.18 to just $7.61.

Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) and Santos (ASX: STO), on the other hand, have delivered investors with strong gains over the course of the year. Woodside shares appreciated 15.4% while Santos rose 31.4%, heavily outscoring the S&P/ASX 200’s (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) 14.6% increase.

Others

Following strong gains earlier in the year, QBE Insurance (ASX: QBE) gained just 7.2%, after a massive profit downgrade in December. Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) also rallied strongly earlier in the year but fell away to a 2% loss for the year.

Telstra (ASX: TLS), Woolworths (ASX: WOW) and Wesfarmers (ASX: WES) gained 19.7%, 14.9% and 17.4% respectively. Logistics company Brambles (ASX: BXB) increase by 22.6%, while CSL (ASX: CSL) and Suncorp (ASX: SUN) also gained 27.7% and 28.2%.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.

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