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These are the S&P/ASX 200’s best performers: Can they go higher?

Despite a spot of weakness last week, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has managed to gain an impressive 10% since this time last year.

As strong as this gain has been, it pales in comparison to some shares on the index. Here are the three best performers during this time:

The a2 Milk Company Ltd (Australia) (ASX: A2M) share price has climbed 96% in the last 12 months. A key catalyst for this incredible rise has been a stunning half-year result which saw net profit after tax increase 290% on the prior corresponding period to NZ$39.4 million. Its shares were given an additional boost recently after the company upgraded its full-year guidance thanks to strong demand for its infant formula from Chinese consumers. Whilst its shares do now look expensive, I feel they could still be a good option for patient buy and hold investors.

The Webjet Limited (ASX: WEB) share price is up 90% since this time last year. Investors have been fighting to get hold of the online travel agent’s shares after its half-year report revealed strong organic growth and market share gains for all its businesses. This helped the company deliver an 86.9% increase in half-year net profit after tax on the prior corresponding period. Like a2 Milk’s shares, the days when Webjet was a bargain buy are long gone. But even so, I think it could still prove to be a great long-term investment.

Even though the Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) share price has tumbled 21% in the last month, it is still the best performer on the index in the last 12 months with a 294% gain. Whitehaven has benefited greatly from the Chinese government’s decision to curb its coal production. With supply reduced and demand rising from Chinese steelmakers, coal prices increased sharply. But with demand from China now falling and inventories growing, prices have begun to tumble. I believe they could fall further, dragging Whitehaven’s share price down as well. For this reason I would avoid the company.

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*Returns as of June 30th

Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of A2 Milk. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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