After a strong start to the year the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) gave back its gains and more to finish the year with a disappointing decline of 6.9% in 2018.
One of the biggest drags on the index were the big four banks which fell heavily due to the Royal Commission and a cooling housing market.
But they weren’t the worst performers on the ASX 200. The five worst performing shares were as follows:
The Syrah Resources Ltd (ASX: SYR) share price was the worst performer on the benchmark index in 2018 with a 68% decline. The graphite miner came under heavy selling pressure last year after suffering from a number of production disruptions at its Balama project. This led to the company having to downgrade its guidance numerous times. In addition to this, lower demand for battery making ingredients has led to short sellers targeting Syrah and its peers.
The Automotive Holdings Group Ltd (ASX: AHG) share price plunged 57% lower in 2018. The auto retailer’s shares have been sold off after the cooling housing market led to challenging trading conditions. In addition to this, regulatory intervention in the sale of finance and insurance products has created headwinds for Automotive Holdings.
The Orocobre Limited (ASX: ORE) share price tumbled a sizeable 54% last year. Short sellers have been targeting Orocobre and several lithium miner peers due to concerns that lower than expected demand and increasing supply of the battery making ingredient could lead to a sharp drop in prices. This appears to have proven accurate with Orocobre recently announcing a sharp decline in the prices it is commanding for its lithium carbonate in the December quarter.
The Ausdrill Limited (ASX: ASL) share price dropped 53% last year. Ausdrill’s shares came under pressure last year after announcing the acquisition of leading underground hard-rock mining contractor Barminco and the loss of a mining contract at the Edikan gold mine in August. While management is targeting FY 2019 underlying earnings growth of between 20% and 30%, it hasn’t been enough to support its share price.
The AMP Limited (ASX: AMP) share price fell 53% in 2018 after being hit for six at the Royal Commission. Investors appear concerned that the financial services company’s appearance at the inquiry has damaged its brand significantly and will lead to high levels of fund outflows and a meaningful reduction in profitability.
Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Automotive Holdings Group Limited. 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 Scott Phillips.