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WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?

It has been a long, long year for stocks. But we can finally start putting the year behind us. If you look at the performance of the S&P/TSX composite over the last year, we're now solidly into positive territory. The index is up 10 per cent over the past year.

It has only been over the last few days that you could begin to say that. Recall, the market plunged deeply in the first few days of October last year, before bottoming in November, bouncing a bit going into the new year, and then finding new lows again in March. If you look at the performance from Oct. 1, 2008, until now, we're still down about 3 per cent.

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With this in mind, let's do a simple exercise to see which stocks have done best and worst, looking back from Oct. 1 to now.

WHAT DID WE FIND OUT?

About 160 stocks are still in the composite that were there a year ago. Given all the volatility of the past year, how many do you think would have at least broken even (not including dividends) if you held them over the past year and a few days?

Ninety stocks are actually up through the period of Oct. 1 to now. In other words, the odds are in your favour that if you held one of the 160 stock in the composite over the past year that it would have at least made you a little money in that period.

Of course, there is some survivorship bias here because if you held a stock that was dropped from the index then that's probably another story. But all the same, it's not likely that many investors could have predicted these results as they were tossing every stock they owned out the window in a panic last fall or spring.

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About the Author
Executive Editor, Report on Business

Scott Adams is the executive editor for Report On Business and Globe Investor. He was previously the managing editor of Globe Investor. He has been a business journalist for more than 10 years, worked as an associate analyst on Bay Street and has been with The Globe and Mail since 2007. More

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