The statistics have been collected, the returns have been calculated, and the Q4 statements have been duly analysed – and overall, it turns out that 2017 was a good year for active investors.
According to analysts at Link Asset Service, more than £94bn was handed out in dividends, an increase of 11.1 per cent year-on-year .
However, fortunes varied considerably from sector to sector.
The rise of streaming, cyber-attacks and cryptocurrencies played havoc with investor forecasts throughout the year, resulting in big wins for cybersecurity companies, and on/off losses for broadcast media.
Mining stocks were as unpredictable as ever, while consumer finance and energy firms felt the wrath of increased government regulation and a more competitive marketplace.
We have scoured the stock markets to identify the big investment winners and losers of the past year, not counting the recent sell-off.
Compare Best Savings Rates
Cloud-based cybersecurity firm Sophos has seen steady growth in its stock price since 2015, but 2017 was the year that the LSE-listed company went stellar.
Following the ‘Wanna Cry’ cyber-attack in May 2017, Sophos saw a huge demand for its products, and the company’s stock rose dramatically by +112 per cent by the end of the year.
Fellow security firms NCC Group, FireEye and Symantec also saw their stock prices rise, by 26.32 per cent, 19.33 per cent and 18.71 per cent, respectively.
Bitcoin was the financial success story of 2017.
On 1 January 2017, you could have bought one Bitcoin for approximately £565.
By New Year’s Eve, one Bitcoin was worth a massive £9,975 – that’s an increase of more than 1,300 per cent in the space of just 12 months.
And the cryptocurrency boom was not limited to Bitcoin – digital currencies such as Ripple, Ethereum, LiteCoin, Cardano and Stellar Lumens all made their mark on 2017, as cryptocurrency trading started to go mainstream.
However, it is worth remembering that this is still very much an alternative investment option, as the anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies makes it near-impossible to track values in real terms.
Mining stocks are notoriously volatile, but 2017 saw a few notable highs for mining companies.
Copper mining firm KAZ Minerals was one of the top-performing stocks of the year, ending the year up by more than 120 per cent, thanks to unexpectedly high yields at is Aktogay copper mine.
Swiss-based iron ore company Ferrexpo also saw extraordinary growth of almost 115 per cent over the course of 2017, but an early January dip in its performance only goes to prove the unpredictable nature of mining investments.
UK-based energy providers struggled to deliver growth for their shareholders in 2017, thanks in part to the government’s energy price cap regulations.
British Gas parent company Centrica had the worst performing stocks of 2017, ending the year at -35 per cent with its share price at a 10-year low. Its ‘Big Six’ rival SSE didn’t perform much better, ending the year down by almost 15 per cent.
The other members of the ‘Big Six’ (npower, EDF, E.ON, and Scottish Power) are all listed on stock exchanges outside of the UK.
The backlash against payday lenders continued in 2017, with doorstep lender Provident Financial shedding 63.76 per cent off its share price by the end of the year.
The 137-year-old subprime lender fell out of the FTSE 100 last year amid a series of regulatory investigations and C-suite departures. At the time of writing, a new CEO had been appointed, resulting in a slight uptick in the share price.
The rise of streaming services led to tough times for broadcast media in 2017.
ITV saw its stock price falter throughout the year, before ending 2017 almost exactly where it began – at 166p per share.
Similarly, Sky PLC saw little movement on its stock price between January and December of 2017, as the Murdoch media empire battled regulators in an effort to gain a controlling interest in the broadcasting firm.