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Last week’s best performing stocks

Weak data from both China and the US have dampened investor sentiment so far in 2014, with the Australian stock market falling for five consecutive weeks. So far for the year, the S&P/ASX 200 Index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has plunged 3.5% after climbing over 15% in 2013.

However, despite the market’s weakness, a number of companies have managed to buck the trend, delivering investors with some fantastic gains. Here are some of last week’s best performers:

  • Aurora Oil & Gas Limited (ASX: AUT) soared 49.8% after receiving a takeover bid from Canadian-based Baytex Energy for $4.10 per share (giving it a market capitalisation of $1.84 billion).
  • Forge Group Limited (ASX: FGE): The mining services company recognised a gain of 14.7% for the week. Unfortunately, the gain did little to make up for the massive decline its shares have experienced so far this year, having fallen from $1.74 a share to today’s price of 82c.
  • Billabong International Limited (ASX: BBG): The retailer gained 14.2%.
  • Mayne Pharma Group Ltd (ASX: MYX): The pharmaceutical group rose 11.6% for the five trading days and is now trading at 82c per share.
  • Prima BioMed Limited (ASX: PRR) also recognised a gain of 8%, bolstered by its 10.2% rally on Friday.
  • Select Harvests Limited (ASX: SHV): The almond producer gained 9.2% for the week, boosted by its 5.9% gain on Friday. At $6.30 a share, Select Harvests is still trading at a very attractive price.
  • REA Group Limited (ASX: REA): The real estate advertiser surged 12.5% after reporting a 37% lift in profits for the half-year to 31 December 2013.
  • Pacific Brands Limited (ASX: PBG): The group gained 10.6% for the week.
  • Gold miners Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX: NCM) and Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST) both recognised strong gains, climbing 7.5% and 9.1% respectively. After a rather disastrous 2013, Newcrest heavily outperformed the broader market so far this year, rallying 33% from $7.80 a share to today’s price of $10.37.
  • Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG): The major iron ore player managed to recover 5.1% after a relatively disappointing month.

On a more negative note, here are some companies that didn’t fare so well for the five trading days:

  • Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd (ASX: VAH): The airliner declined 4.4% while its rival Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) fell 3.2%.
  • TPG Telecom Ltd (ASX: TPM): The telco plunged 6.1% for the week.
  • Acrux Limited (ASX: ACR): Despite rising 3% on Friday, the drug company plummeted 11.2% between Monday and Friday.

Foolish takeaway

Investor sentiment has remained low so far this year, which is particularly disappointing considering the market’s strength over the last 12 months. However, investors should be taking advantage of the temporary lows to buy quality companies trading at discounted prices!

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman has no financial interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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