These were the FTSE 100’s dogs and stars in February

While other major market indices have soared in 2024, it’s been a weak start for UK shares. The elite FTSE 100 index is down 0.8% since 29 December, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 has dropped 2.3% this year.

Last month’s winners and losers

From 31 January to 29 February, the Footsie hardly budged, losing 0.55 points (-0.01%). But hidden below this stability, some shares soared while others slumped.

For the record, 45 FTSE 100 stocks rose in value in February, with these gains ranging from 0.2% to 21.4%. The average rise among these 45 winners was 6%, easily beating the wider index.

At the other end of the scale lie 55 losers, with declines ranging from 0.1% to 22.3%. Across these 55 stocks, the average fall was 5.8% — close to the opposite average return of the gainers.

February’s dogs and stars

Here are the FTSE 100’s biggest losers and winners in February:

The dogs

Name Business One-month return One-year return Five-year return
Fresnillo Mining -17.0% -41.5% -44.7%
Airtel Africa Telecoms -21.3% -21.2% N/A
St James’s Place Financial services -22.3% -60.7% -49.5%

Shares in these three companies fell from 17% to more than 22% last month. The average slump among these three losers was 20.2%. Notably, all of the stocks also produced poor returns over one and five years (other than one which was listed in mid-2019).

The stars

Name Business One-month return One-year return Five-year return
Rolls-Royce Holdings Aerospace & defence 21.4% 148.7% 18.9%
Beazley Housebuilder 20.5% -4.5% 18.9%
InterContinental Hotels Group Hotelier 12.4% 50.2% 82.3%

Shares in these three winners leapt from over 12% to more than 21% in February. The average rise across these winners was 18.1%. Two of the shares had excellent runs over the past year, while all three beat the FTSE 100 over the past five years.

Barclays was my Footsie star

As it happens, my wife and I own none of the jumpers and slumpers listed above. For us, the Footsie’s biggest winner in February was Barclays (LSE: BARC) — FTSE 100 star #4.

Last month, shares in the Blue Eagle bank jumped by 11.5%, breaking January’s downtrend. That said, the shares are down 5.7% over the last 12 months and up a mere 1.2% over half a decade. However, these returns exclude cash dividends, which are increasingly generous from British banks.

As I write, Barclays shares trade at 168.58p, valuing the bank at £25.6bn. This is a fraction of its valuation before the devastating global financial crisis of 2007-09.

At this level, this stock trades on a lowly multiple of 6.3 times earnings, delivering an earnings yield of 15.9%. This means that the market-beating dividend yield of 4.8% a year is covered almost 3.4 times by trailing earnings.

Of course, things could get a lot worse for leading UK lenders in 2024. High inflation has crushed consumers’ spending power and hurt household budgets. Together with higher interest rates, this will likely lead to steeper loan losses and bad debts for banks this year.

Despite these growing risks, we will hold tightly onto Barclays and our other FTSE 100 stocks. After all, investing should be a marathon and not a sprint!

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