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South Africa: A Rocky Year for Almost Every Firm On the JSE, Except the Mining Companies

Covid-19 took its toll on global economies and SA’s in particular – that much can be seen in the performance of SA’s blue-chip banking, retail and industrial stocks, which were hammered. Those that recover and thrive will be the companies with the strongest balance sheets and best management.

It is safe to say that the JSE had an interesting year in 2020. After crashing spectacularly in March, the stock exchange recovered its losses within weeks. Considering the devastation that Covid-19 wrought on the South African economy, the fact that the JSE ended the year up 0.63% from where it began in January 2020 is remarkable.

However, a closer look at the Top 100 stocks will show that while heavyweights like Naspers and Prosus did their bit to hold the bourse steady, gaining 31.8% and 52%, respectively, in the year, it was the resource stocks that saved the day.

That’s because stalwarts like British American Tobacco (BAT), AB InBev, Sasol and Remgro had a disastrous year, losing anything between 8.7% in the case of BAT and 50.7% in the case of Remgro.

Banks, which were expected to prop up the economy during and after the lockdown by providing extended terms and…