MTN tops them all on JSE in 2021

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mtn

MTN Group was the best performer among technology shares in South Africa last year, despite its huge size.

TechCentral’s annual analysis of the best (and worst) performing tech shares listed on the JSE shows MTN pipped Ellies Holdings to top position with a 12-month return of a stunning 183.6%.

The performance in MTN shares came as investors warmed to the group’s growth strategy, improving prospects in key markets like Nigeria, its decision to exit the Middle East, management’s focus on reducing debt, and opportunities in growth areas like fintech, among other things.

Rival Vodacom Group, by contrast, eked out an 8.2% improvement in its share price in 2021. But with big corporate activity on the go, including the acquisition of Vodafone Egypt, it’ll be interesting to see whether it’s Vodacom or MTN’s share price that performs better in the year ahead.

Two small-cap shares occupied the second and third positions in TechCentral’s list this year, after MTN: Ellies Holdings (up 172.7%), and Jasco Electronics (111.8%). MTN, Ellies and Jasco were the only three technology companies to manage triple-digit gains over the past year.

Rounding out the top five were newly listed Bytes Technology Group (up 83%) – Bytes is a spinoff of Altron and has its primary listing in London – and Alviva Holdings (up 79.5%), a large technology distributor whose brands include Axiz, Pinnacle and, through a recent acquisition, Tarsus.

Telkom also had a great year, despite poor performance at its IT services business, BCX, notching up a 76.1% return for shareholders.

Firms Start End 1-year % 3-year %
MTN 6019 17071 183.6 91.8
Ellies 11 30 172.7 66.7
Jasco 17 36 111.8 -28
Bytes Tech 6670 12205 83 n/a
Alviva 925 1660 79.5 -5.7
Telkom 3071 5408 76.1 -14.6
Alaris 244 410 68 30.2
Adapt IT 438 705 60.1 19.5
Mustek 840 1330 58.3 75
Datatec 2455 3850 56.8 40.7
Cap App 116 170 46.6 115.2
Reunert 3620 5300 46.4 -25.2
Blue Label T 386 509 31.9 -5.9
Etion 27 34 25.9 -27.7
Net1 UEPS 6800 8464 24.5 68.4
Mix Tele 700 825 17.9 -2.9
Silverbridge 104 120 15.4 0
Vodacom 12439 14362 8.2 2
TeleMasters 122 125 2.5 8.7
Cognition 74 68 -8.1 -43.3
MultiChoice 13400 12203 -8.9 n/a
Altron 1091 915 -16.1 -49.2
EOH 830 683 -17.7 -77.8
Naspers 301935 247200 -18.1 31.7
Prosus 160616 130873 -18.5 n/a
4Sight 28 22 -21.4 -43.6
Huge Grp 499 354 -29.1 -56
Ayo Tech 600 350 -41.7 -85.2

After years of underperformance related to its disastrous acquisition of 45% of Cell C, even Blue Label Telecoms had a positive year, gaining 31.9% by the December close.

Mustek, meanwhile, had another excellent year, with its share price jumping 58.3%. Datatec also did well, up 56.8% — and that came on top of generous dividends paid to shareholders during the year.

Another notable performer was Adapt IT (up 60%), though this rise was largely driven by the buyout offer from Canada’s Volaris Group. As a result of the acquisition, Adapt IT’s listing on the JSE has been terminated.

Poor performers this year included Naspers and Prosus – the companies were negatively impacted by a regulatory crackdown in China on tech companies, including Tencent, which spooked investors.

Huge, EOH suffer

Huge Group, which had made an unsuccessful attempt to buy Adapt IT, fell 29.1% by year-end, while EOH also performed poorly, despite swinging back to a profit in 2021. Its shares closed the year down 17.7%. Over three years, they have fallen by 77.8%.

Iqbal Survé’s Ayo Technology Solutions was by far the worst performer in TechCentral’s list for 2021, plunging 41.7% in what was generally a positive year for South African tech stocks. Over three years, the scandal-plagued Ayo has shed 85.2% of its value.

The TechCentral list considers only share price movements and does not take into account dividends paid to shareholders.

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