This year has been a positive one for ASX small caps. According to Bloomberg, the average small cap has gained just under 5 per cent and some of the major sectors have seen double digit percentage gains.

One example is the health sector which has gained 20 per cent with success stories like pain-detecting app PainChek (ASX:PCK); and macular degeneration fighter Opthea (ASX:OPT). But if you divide small caps even further there are gains to be had.

Utilising a division method known as the GICS code, which classifies companies based on their sector, Stockhead has identified five micro-sectors of the ASX that have performed well in 2019.

1. Medtech: 64 per cent

This sector is home to three small caps which have more than tripled in 2019, led by PainChek (ASX:PCK) as well as health informatics stock Alcidion Group (ASX:ALC) which is up 470 per cent and Mach7 Technologies (ASX:M7T).

The catalyst for PainChek was receiving funding from the Morrison government, which set off a chain reaction of new clients coming onboard.

Code Name Price 1 Year % Return Market Cap
RAP RESAPP HEALTH LTD 0.34 67.5 233.25M
MEB MEDIBIO LTD 0.01 -73.26 12.94M
PCK PAINCHEK LTD 0.32 563.27 307.21M
GLH GLOBAL HEALTH LTD 0.16 -12.95 5.51M
MDR MEDADVISOR LTD 0.05 39.47 91.08M
IME IMEXHS LTD 0.04 43.33 39.80M
ALC ALCIDION GROUP LTD 0.25 469.77 220.67M
NHL NOVITA HEALTHCARE LTD 0.01 -67.74 6.49M
CGS COGSTATE LTD 0.29 -47.27 43.14M
M7T MACH7 TECHNOLOGIES LTD 0.69 283.33 103.71M
LSH LIFESPOT HEALTH LTD 0.05 -35.9 3.88M
GMV G MEDICAL INNOVATION HOLDING 0.08 -78.68 32.70M
PKS PKS HOLDINGS LTD 0.19 -10 22.41M
1ST 1ST GROUP LTD 0.07 116.13 23.81M
ADR ADHERIUM LTD 0.04 -54.43 6.27M
JHL JAYEX HEALTHCARE LTD 0.03 3.57 5.01M
ONE ONEVIEW HEALTHCARE PLC-CDI 0.29 -78.85 51.00M
VHT VOLPARA HEALTH TECHNOLOGIES 1.54 23.95 336.91M

2. Industrial chemicals: 63 per cent

This sector includes potash, hydrogen and industrial sanitisers. Leading this sector is Advance Nanotek (ASX:ANO) which is up 567 per cent since January 1. Among this company’s chemicals are a zinc-oxide based UV absorber (ZinClear) and an aluminium oxide pigment (Alusion).

But hydrogen has been a stand out as well with Hazer Group (ASX:HZR) gaining 61 per cent as it strives to become Australia’s first company to produce pure hydrogen for energy consumption.

Code Name Price 1 Year % Return Market Cap
DNK DANAKALI LTD 0.62 -19.08 163.34M
ANO ADVANCE NANOTEK LTD 6 567.15 353.52M
HFR HIGHFIELD RESOURCES LTD 0.69 23.01 229.02M
PWN PARKWAY MINERALS NL 0.01 60 9.72M
SO4 SALT LAKE POTASH LTD 0.85 79.79 216.31M
SES SECOS GROUP LTD 0.08 19.5 29.34M
FGR FIRST GRAPHENE LTD 0.19 27.59 87.82M
RWD REWARD MINERALS LTD 0.09 -35.71 14.63M
ZNO ZOONO GROUP LTD 0.11 10 17.96M
CXL CALIX LTD 0.69 -6.08 97.54M
AJX ALEXIUM INTERNATIONAL GROUP 0.13 8.33 45.17M
TTT TITOMIC LTD 1.32 -15.38 167.92M
BGT BIO-GENE TECHNOLOGY LTD 0.17 30.77 21.93M
CG1 CARBONXT GROUP LTD 0.36 -28.25 31.97M
TMG TRIGG MINING LTD 0.1 6.09M
SDV SCIDEV LTD 0.53 470.33 65.49M
RAN RANGE INTERNATIONAL LTD 0.02 -56 4.42M
KLL KALIUM LAKES LTD 0.49 42.49 188.86M
LER LEAF RESOURCES LTD 0.03 -47.48 11.12M
HZR HAZER GROUP LTD 0.5 61.29 48.63M

3. Life sciences tools and services: 55 per cent

When it comes to life sciences it is easy to think of companies such as Opthea (ASX:OPT) that are testing drugs to cure diseases. But a handful of stocks on the ASX use physical devices. One example is Memphasys (ASX:MEM) which has developed a sperm sorting device to be an alternative to IVF treatment and it has gained 523 per cent in 2019.

Another gainer is Genetic Signatures (ASX:GSS) which has a technology that screens for infectious pathogens — it’s up 89 per cent this year.

Code Name Price 1 Year % Return Market Cap
ADO ANTEO DIAGNOSTICS LTD 0.01 13.37 19.43M
CTE CRYOSITE LTD 0.04 -31.25 2.06M
MEM MEMPHASYS LTD 0.09 523.23 57.07M
OSL ONCOSIL MEDICAL LTD 0.08 -53.33 52.98M
BPH BPH ENERGY LTD 0.001 -11.11 2.99M
GTG GENETIC TECHNOLOGIES LTD 0.004 -59.82 13.78M
PAL PALLA PHARMA LTD 0.9 -40 72.98M
PIQ PROTEOMICS INTERNATIONAL LAB 0.35 61.36 28.68M
GSS GENETIC SIGNATURES LTD 1.1 88.79 113.95M

4. Interactive media and services: 52 per cent

This is the same sector that in the US contains Facebook and Alphabet (GICS Code: 502030). This category was only created last year as part of a reshuffle of the codes — last done in 1999 when the latter was just another search box and the former didn’t exist.

Down Under, this sector has been led by the high-flying Tinybeans (ASX:TNY) which has improved its revenues signing clients such as Lego. Next is adtech company Advertisas (ASX:AV1) which has gained 278 per cent in 2019.

In recent months tech privacy has been a concern but evidently investors have been able to shrug this off — Stockhead had a fascinating chat with CEO Eddie Geller about this issue.

Code Name Price 1 Year % Return Market Cap
RNT RENT.COM.AU LTD 0.03 -45 9.61M
PCH PROPERTY CONNECT HOLDINGS 0.003 -50 2.06M
MSM MSM CORPORATION INTERNATIONA 0.014 55.56 11.69M
NVO NVOI LTD 0.015 200 15.55M
ICU ISENTRIC LTD 0.007 -77.42 1.29M
MWR MGM WIRELESS LTD 3.78 20.38 53.42M
THD THRED LTD 0.002 -50 3.58M
IVODD INVIGOR GROUP LTD 0.04 -71.43 6.08M
AV1 ADVERITAS LTD 0.17 277.78 29.68M
STG STRAKER TRANSLATIONS LTD 1.77 93.77M
EGD EVANS & PARTNERS GLOBAL DISR 2.13 3.9 267.17M
RMY RMA GLOBAL LTD 0.23 0 93.54M
HOT HOTCOPPER HOLDINGS LTD 0.15 -22.12 17.12M
FDV FRONTIER DIGITAL VENTURES LT 0.76 36.94 186.63M
TNY TINYBEANS GROUP PTY LTD 1.9 691.67 72.29M
REV REAL ESTATE INVESTAR GROUP L 0.008 -11.11 1.87M
AD1 APPLYDIRECT LTD 0.015 -54.55 8.22M
AER AEERIS LTD 0.11 100 6.60M
LAA LATAM AUTOS LTD 0.05 -74.61 25.89M

5. Aerospace and defence goods: 29 per cent

This sector is well and truly a micro sector made up of just six companies. Up 112 per cent in 2019 is DroneShield (ASX:DRO) which is capitalising on the explosion in popularity of drones. But it doesn’t make drones, it intercepts and scrambles them.

Also doubling this year is Canberra-based XTEK (ASX:XTE) which has a processing technology that allows it to make things lighter and stronger. This company began servicing clients in the military, specifically ballistics protection, but it is expanding into the space industry due to a demand. Sending anything into space is not cheap, and the lighter something is, the easier and less costly it will be to launch.

Code Name Price (I) 1 Year % Return Market Cap
QHL QUICKSTEP HOLDINGS LTD 0.12 55.84 85.24M
OEC ORBITAL CORP LTD 0.29 -37.63 22.46M
XTE XTEK LTD 0.92 100 48.52M
PTB PTB GROUP LTD 0.74 35.46 55.06M
UUV UUV AQUABOTIX LTD 0 -91.51 2.07M
DRO DRONESHIELD LTD 0.34 112.5 85.70M