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ASX 20 best performers – who comes out on top?

Phil Harpur
Best ASX share

Which ASX 20 companies have been the best performers on the ASX over the past 12 months?

Few will be surprised to see CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) coming out on top, but the extent of its annual share price gain may surprise a few, up a staggering 69%.

Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) and Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) take second and third positions, both with very impressive growth rates for defensive shares.

Transurban Group (ASX: TCL) and Goodman Group (ASX: GMG) take fourth and fifth positions respectively, both with strong annual growth in their share prices.

Ranking Company 12-month share price growth
1 CSL 68.8%
2 Woolworths 42.3%
3 Wesfarmers 41.8%
4 Transurban 29.2%
5 Goodman 26.8%

1. CSL

CSL has gone from strength to strength and is the clear market leader amongst the ASX 20 over the past 12 months. The healthcare giant has become a global market leader in blood plasma research and disease treatment, reaching people in more than 60 countries.

Over the past few decades, CSL has evolved from a small federal government spin-off to sit as the second-largest company on the ASX, fast challenging Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) for the top position. CSL has invested more than US$3 billion in research and development over the last 5 years, which creates a pipeline of new products and helps extend the company’s large moat to protect against market competition.

2. Woolworths

Woolworths has had a great run on the ASX over the past 12 months with its share price up by 42% during this time. The Australian conglomerate has proven to be a popular choice in challenging market conditions, due to its excellent defensive properties.

The company’s recent financials were very solid. For the first quarter of 2020, Woolworths reported group sales of $15.9 billion, up 7.1% on 1Q19. The group’s largest segment was Australian Food which grew sales at 7.8%, while total group online sales grew 37.4%. Woolworths shares currently trade on a trailing dividend yield of 2.4%, fully franked.

3. Wesfarmers

Wesfarmers takes third spot on this ASX 20 leadership board with 41.8% growth over the last 12 months. The Aussie conglomerate is a highly diversified business with operations in general retail segments including home improvement, general merchandise and office supplies, as well as industrial segments with operations in chemicals and energy.

This diversification across a broad spectrum of the Australian economy is Wesfarmers’ core strength, as it provides a buffer to any industry-specific challenges. Wesfarmers shares are currently trading on a trailing dividend yield of 3.88%, fully franked.

4. Transurban

Transurban has experienced strong share price growth of 29% over the past 12 months. The company is one of the world’s largest toll-road operators and the largest operator of private toll-roads in Australia. In fact, Transurban owns a virtual monopoly on the toll roads of Australia’s 2 largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, and also has a number of toll roads in Brisbane. Additionally, the company manages and develops toll-roads in North America.

Transurban shares also have strong defensive characteristics as the company’s revenue streams are unlikely to be impacted by economic downturns, thus providing more stable dividends. Transurban released its 1H20 results just this morning and shares currently pay an attractive trailing dividend yield of 3.7%, fully franked.

5. Goodman

Goodman is a global property group with ownership and developments in industrial real estate in 17 countries. These industrial properties include logistics and industrial facilities, warehouses and business parks. The company has a strategy that centres on high-quality properties in key locations to deliver sustainable returns for investors.

Goodman has been one of the top performers in the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) segment with shares growing an impressive 27% over the past 12 months. On the dividend front, Goodman shares currently trade on a trailing yield of just under 2%.

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Phil Harpur owns shares of CSL Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of CSL Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended Transurban Group. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Wesfarmers Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

The Motley Fool's purpose is to help the world invest, better. Click here now for your free subscription to Take Stock, The Motley Fool's free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson. 2020