The Top (And Bottom) Performing ASX Stocks of 2019

8 January 2020
The ASX had a great year in 2019 with a growth of 20.8%. Some companies outperformed the market, while others experienced heavy losses. We explore the top and bottom 3 in terms of share price performance. 

Last calendar year’s highest growth in share price was 696%, the greatest loss was a 64.1% decrease in share price. 

What factors influenced this performance? And will their outlook remain the same for 2020?

Top 3 Share Price Increases

Top 3 Share Price Decreases

Avita Medical – 696% increase

Polynovo – 231% increase

EML Payments – 205% increase

Costa Group – 64.1% decrease

Pilbara Minerals – 55.2% decrease

Mayne Pharma Group – 43.9% decrease

Table Data Sourced From Yahoo Finance

If you’re comparing Online Share Trading companies, the comparison table below displays some of the companies available on Canstar’s database with links to the company’s website. The information displayed is based on an average of 6 trades per month. Please note the table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) followed by provider name (alphabetical). Use Canstar’s Online Share Trading comparison selector to view a wider range of Online Share Trading companies.

Mayne Pharma Group (MYX) – 43.9% decrease in share price

Mayne Pharma are a pharmaceutical company that produce both commercial and generic pharmaceuticals. These include, but are not limited to, aspirins, morphine and doxycycline.

The month of May saw a crash of 13% in Mayne Pharma’s stock price after the company released a market update of 10 months worth of unaudited financial performance, which displayed disappointing profits.

Mayne Pharma’s CEO, Scott Richards, said at the time that they had foreshadowed these results in February, and the rocky start to 2019 was a result of many of their key generic products facing competitive pressure, especially in the US.

The company has remained optimistic they can combat these challenges, and a media release in August stated “… we have undertaken a number of actions to better align our business with market realities and focused the business on sustainable categories and channels. These changes position Mayne Pharma well for the future to reduce earnings volatility and drive shareholder returns.”

At the time of writing we have not yet seen a rally for the Mayne Pharma share prices. Current share price of Mayne Pharma and their 2019 Annual Report can be found on the ASX website.

Pilbara Minerals (PLS) – 55.2% decrease in share price

Pilbara Minerals are a lithium mining company based in Australia. According to Pilbara’s website they are set to become one of the biggest lithium raw materials producers globally. 

2019, however, was not kind to lithium miners. 

Demand for lithium decreased last year, and as Vanessa Zhou wrote in an article for Australian Mining, “Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC)… reinforced the difficult market conditions lithium miners have been facing, stating that prices have “come right down” as global supply exceeded demand.”

Prices in 2020 are expected to continue to drop, which could prove a major challenge for Pilbara Minerals’ operations. 

According to Simply Wall St, Pillbara Minerals are not yet at a breakeven point, and path to profitability is a major concern for investors. 

View current share price and annual report for PLS here

Costa Group Holdings (CGC) – 64.1% decrease in share price

Costa is the largest Australian grower and packer of vegetables and fruit. Costa supply produce to major Australian supermarket chains and independent grocers, as well as other businesses in the food service industry. In addition, Costa exports to Europe, North America and Asia. 

Several factors impacted Costa’s stock performance in 2019. They revised their projected earnings for the year from $57 million plus to an adjusted net profit of just $28 million. 

Costa also undertook a $187 million equity raising activity in October, selling shares at $2.20 despite their most recently traded price of $3.46. 

High water prices, draught, and disappointing crop yields had a negative impact on Costa’s earnings. Agriculture as an industry struggled in 2019 due to environmental issues. 

An article in the Australian Financial Review saw many analysts agreeing Costa’s predicted EBITDA for 2020 was optimistic, and Macquarie analysts said, “Given CGC’s poor earnings track record over last year, we think delivery is required to restore the faith; CGC’s CY20 guidance looks optimistic in this regard (we have taken a more conservative view and are 12% below EBITDA guidance).”

See Costa’s current share price and report here

Source: Shutterstock by Travis Wolfe

EML Payments (EML) – 205% increase in share price

EML Payments offer payment card technology solutions, and are the world’s largest provider of shopping mall gift cards. In addition to this, EML offers white label cards for everything from salary packaging to gaming payouts, and more. 

2019 saw EMLs acquisition of Ireland-based ‘Prepaid Financial Service’. According to EML Payments’ Annual Report, 68% of their growth is attributed to organic, with 32% attributed to acquisition. The company also signed several deals with shopping centre chains in the financial year.

The increase in their net profit after tax may be what contributed to their massive share price rise. Their FY19 report noted an increase of 283% in net profit after tax from the previous financial year. In addition to this, their revenue was up 37%.

2020 has opened positively for EML Payments. See their current share prices here

Polynovo (PNV) – 231% increase in share price

Polynovo develops polymers that are patented and unique, specifically for use in medical devices. Their products are used to repair everything from hernias, to burns, orthopaedics and reconstructive surgery. 

Polynovo’s NovoSorb Biodegradable Temporising Matrix (BTM) showed very promising results for the company, and may be attributed to much of their success in 2019. BTM trials of 150 patients, along with a further $25 million in funding, was awarded to Polynovo by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in the US in 2015. 

BTM is the company’s current product, and intended for the treatment of full-thickness burns and wounds.

Polynovo’s share prices peaked in October of 2019, before declining slightly from November, with a small December rally. Full stock performance can be found here.

Avita Medical Group (AVH) – 696% increase in share price

“[Avita Medical] products provide innovative treatment solutions derived from regenerative properties of a patient’s own skin.” They are a global regenerative medicine company.

Towards the end of 2018 the FDA in the US gave nationwide approval for the sale of Avita Medical’s RECELL System. The RECELL System uses a patient’s own skin to produce a ‘Spray-On Skin’ for the treatment of wounds.

Avita Medical’s share price increase correlates with their increase in sales. 

This US approval was a huge boost for RECELL sales. According to their annual report, in FY19 RECELL sales totalled $7,705,398 Australian – an increase of $6,506,537 (or 543%) from the previous period. Of this, $6,214,660 came from US sales.

Avita Medical Group’s current share price and Annual Report can be found here


The stock market can be, by its nature, unpredictable. A stock that has performed positively (or poorly, for that matter) in the past, by no means guarantees it will continue this trend into the future. 

In fact, there have been several notable examples where a company’s share price has unexpectedly plummeted or skyrocketed – this is often referred to as a Black Swan Event. 

Those looking into selecting their own stocks may benefit from our guide here

ETFs may also be a good alternative to individually selecting stocks, as they can help diversify your portfolio which may additionally de-risk it.

The below table offers a comparison of Australian Broad Based ETFs