Pacific Trader: Old versus new energy—who won in ’21?

Taking a look back at the 37 B.C.-based stocks we profiled in 2021 brings some intriguing contrasts.

Credit: Courtesy of ReconAfrica and Lithium Americas

ReconAfrica’s first test well drill site, in northeast Namibia (left); Lithium Americas’ Caucharí-Olaroz project in Argentina

Our best and worst stock picks of the year gone by

Taking a look back at the 37 B.C.-based stocks we profiled in 2021 brings some intriguing contrasts, such as the battle between those tied to old and new energy sources. The best performance for the full calendar year goes to oil explorer Reconnaissance Energy Africa (TSX:RECO), with its 207.32-percent gain. However, all that rise happened in the very early months of the year; since we profiled ReconAfrica on April 28, it’s fallen 21.35 percent.

READ MORE: Pacific Trader: Has ReconAfrica discovered the next oil gusher?

The past year saw something of a comeback for fossil fuels, with not only ReconAfrica but also coal exporter Westshore Terminals (TSX:WTE, up 73.93 percent) experiencing strong gains while climate warriors Green Impact Partners (TSXV:GIP) and Westport Fuel Systems (TSX:WPRT) performed poorly. Still, one of Pacific Trader’s best picks was battery materials producer Lithium Americas Corp., which jumped 63.14 percent since we profiled it on August 25. (It came in second place for the entire year, with a 113.2-percent gain.)

Our savviest pick turned out to be fashion retailer Aritzia (TSX:ATZ), which rose 64.62 percent after our column appeared on March 10 (up 107.57 percent for the full year). Xenon Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:XENE) came in a close second, adding another 64.42 percent gain after we showcased it on May 26. With a 111.94-percent gain for the full year, it was third in that department, too.

The biggest miss for 2021 had to be BBTV Holdings (TSX:BBTV), down 78.43 percent for the full year though basically flat since we profiled it December 22. The other big losers were cannabis producer Tilray (TSX:TLRY, down 53.93 percent) and the aforementioned Westport (off 52.75 percent). Pacific Trader’s worst calls were Absolute Software (TSX:ABST, down 33.93 percent since we profiled it June 30), Tilray (down 30.42 percent since October 13) and Green Impact (off 24.62 percent since July 30).

Overall, though, our stock-picking record held up. If you bought a single share of each company on the day its story appeared, you’d be ahead $176.01, or 15.17 percent, as of December 31—not bad considering the average holding period was around six months. Granted, this is a completely unscientific measurement. But our 37 stocks also averaged full-year price returns (excluding dividends) of 17.75 percent on an equal-weighted basis.

May your investing adventures be similarly lucrative in 2022!

Best full-year returns

ReconAfrica  +207.32%

Lithium Americas  +113.2%

Xenon Pharmaceuticals  +111.94%

Worst full-year returns

BBTV Holdings  –78.43%

Tilray –53.93%

Westport Fuel Systems  –52.75%

Best picks (return since publication date)

Aritzia  +64.62%

Xenon Pharmaceuticals  +64.42%

Lithium Americas  +63.14%

Worst picks (return since publication date)

Absolute Software  –33.93%

Tilray  –30.42%

Green Impact Partners  –24.62%