Scotland’s listed firms have generated almost double the returns of FTSE 350 over ten years, but remain underrepresented

Ben Laidler (eToro)

SCOTTISH rugby fans will be hoping their first XV can produce the goods against England next week – and if they can mirror the performance of Scotland’s top 15 listed stocks over the last decade, they’ll be taking home the Calcutta Cup without breaking a sweat.

Since January 2013, a basket of the 15 biggest Scotland-headquartered firms (simple weighting) listed in the FTSE 350 have returned investors 56.1% versus just 30.5% for the FTSE350 Index as a whole. This outperformance is also there over the last three years – with the basket of Scottish stocks beating FTSE350 returns by 11.9%.

However the picture starts to change as we near the present day, with the Scottish companies underperforming vs the FTSE 350 by 4.6%. One key driver of this trend is that 10 of the 15 Scottish companies are in the financial services sector – including names such as NatWest, ABDN and Virgin Money – all of which have been impacted by the market downturn which started last year.

Ben Laidler, Global Markets Strategist at eToro said: “Scotland fans will be praying for a third consecutive Six Nations win over England next week, and for any investors who have heavily backed Scotland’s largest listed firms over the last decade, they may feel they’ve already won. 

“Thanks to the stellar performance of Scotland’s brightest stars in the FTSE 350 – Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust and Smart Metering Systems – the first XV of Scotland’s listed companies have provided a healthy return over a long period. However, with Scotland’s firms so heavily focused on the financial sector, a basket of these stocks is heavily influenced by the performance of this sector.”

Scotland basket performanceFTSE 350 performanceScotland basket vs FTSE 350
1 year-4%0.6%-4.6%
3 years12.7%0.8%11.9%
5 years1.9%0.7%1.2%
10 years56.1%30.5%25.6%

The largest listed firm headquartered in Scotland is NatWest, followed by Perth-based utility company SSE. However it was the performance of US and tech-focused Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, and energy infrastructure company Smart Metering Systems,respectively up 388% and 239% over ten years, which have driven the pack.

Meanwhile other Scottish sectors have not fared particularly well, with Aberdeen engineer Wood Group down 80% in the past decade, while oil exploration firm Ithaca Energy is down 15% since listing late in 2022.

The other firms included in the basket were The Edinburgh Investment Trust, Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust, Murray International, Weir Group, Templeton Emerging Markets, Personal Assets Trust, Alliance Trust and SSE. 

In total Scotland-headquartered firms make up 5% of the total number of large UK listed  companies, with a market capitalisation of £1 billion or more. This falls short of the country’s circa 8% contribution to UK GDP.

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