Although the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) looks set to record its first annual decline since 2011, there have been a number of companies that have produced super-impressive returns in that time.
But there have also been some absolute shockers which likely resulted in an even worse performance for some investors than the ASX 200 itself. Here are five names that will go down as some of the worst ASX shares for 2015:
Slater & Gordon Limited (ASX: SGH) started the year off as an excitement machine and would rise to a high of $8.07 early in the year. However, a highly controversial acquisition, two separate investigations into its accounting activities, proposed changes to personal injury laws in the UK and a potential earnings downgrade have seen the shares fall almost 90% from their peak. They’re trading at 92.5 cents currently.
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) has, for a long-time, been one of Australia’s most widely-held shares. It stands to reason then that many investors will be cringing at the poor year the miner has suffered through, resulting from crashing commodity prices, a disaster at one of its mines in Brazil and speculation that it might be forced to scrap its ‘progressive dividend’ policy. The shares have risen 3.5% today, but at $17.42, remain well below their 52-week high above $31 a share.
Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) is another widely-held blue chip share which has been hammered by the market and for good reason. The company has issued numerous profit downgrades and is now warning of sliding margins as it attempts to become more competitive with the likes of Coles – owned by Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) – as well as Aldi and Costco. A heavy fall in earnings is a given and the dividend will likely follow with the shares having lost nearly a third of their market value since late February.
Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd (ASX: LNG) shareholders enjoyed monstrous returns in 2014, but not so in 2015. After soaring to a high of $5 per share in April this year, the shares began a rapid descent and are now sitting at just 74.5 cents. This has largely been a result of the crashing oil prices which have put a huge question mark over the economic viability of its various projects.
Mesoblast limited (ASX: MSB) has also had a terrible year following a disastrous attempt to raise capital in the United States via the NASDAQ index. The shares traded for $4.39 at the beginning of the year and roughly $3.40 as recently as October, but subsequently crashed to a low of $1.35. They’ve since regained some composure and are now trading at $1.74, while shareholders will be grateful to know that some analysts have become intrigued in the company at its current price.
Looking forward to 2016, it is unclear whether it will be the same companies that continue to lag the market, or whether it will be the same companies that produce those stunning returns such as Blackmores or Japara Healthcare.
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The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of Costco Wholesale. Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ASXvalueinvest.
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